Is Spam Fighting A Part of Your SEO?
02 Sep, 2020 / Comments: Comments Off on Is Spam Fighting A Part of Your SEO? / By Stuart McHenry
The image above is taken from one of our clients from last week. Yes, they received 94 free leads from Google in one week. How was this done? It was a combination of local SEO techniques but a big part was spam fighting.
In this day and age of marketing, you cannot rely on Google to catch all the spam. Some companies are relentless and will go through great lengthens to get their spam listings on Google. This is especially true for anyone in the home services industry.
Watch this video below to see some investigative reporting on the locksmith industry.
Why should you care if there are spam listing on Google?
Because they are likely to rank, and that is one more listing that you need to compete with. Even if you think it’s no big deal because you outrank them, you need to rethink that.
When you search your keywords from your office location, you will generally rank higher in Google Local (specifically the local 3-pack) than your competitors. Why? One of the most critical factors is proximity. If you were to drive a few miles away, the results could and do often look completely different.
Below is an excellent example of what great Google My Business + Local SEO optimization can do. The first image is from April, and the next image is from September. Can you see how much more reach this client of ours has now?
Please take a look at how this company ranks for plumbers within their city. As you can see, they dominate the upper portion of this map. That wasn’t always the case.
This is the type of local SEO that makes the phone ring more. How was this achieved?
Fighting spam is huge. One of the first things I did was research all the companies listed as their competitors in Google Local. Every single company I found, I conducted reviewed their website, business address, and business name to look for Google violations and spam.
One of the easiest ways to increase your local SEO reach in your market is to eliminate the competition. Now you cannot get rid of legitimate businesses that follow the rules, but trying to cheat the system should not prevail.
To better understand, let’s first look at what Google considers spam or violations of their guidelines.
• Multiple Address to Increase Visibility
• Keywords in Business Name
• Residential Address
• UPS Store or PO Box
• Fake Business Name
• Inaccurate Address
Keywords in Business Name
Your name listed in Google My Business needs to be your actual company name. If your electrical business is called “Sparky Services,” you cannot list your business as “Sparky Electricians” or Sparky Electricians San Diego.”
Note: A domain name isn’t a company name. Many companies have domain names that aren’t the same as their actual business name. You can verify a company’s name on their website, usually in the Copyright section located at the bottom, or search for their business from the secretary of state business search website.
Multiple Address to Increase Visibility
Some companies will open Google My Business listing for every relative, employee, or friend that will let them. Often they use an address from someone they know to try and get more leads. This is a clear violation in Google. Please note if you do have legit multiple locations it is acceptable. (houses don’t count)
Note: If your company does this, clean it up now.
Google considers a residential address as a “private place” and therefore is against the guidelines. These are super easy to report. Search for the address and see what comes up. I use data from Zillow or Google Maps to take a screenshot and report it to Google. On several occasions, I drove by and took pictures to show Google proof.
UPS Store or PO Box
Another form of spam is using a UPS store or PO Box as an address. This is probably the easiest method of catching your competitors. When you Google their address and a UPS store pops up, report them as spam. Imagine if you rented a PO Box in every city you served customers in. What a huge unfair advantage. Take pictures or screenshots and report the listings that are using PO Boxes.
Fake Business Name
Some companies will take over Google My Business listings or create new ones with fake names. Most of the time, they have a generic name, and they sell the leads to other home service companies. They often answer the phone with just the trade name (“Hello Plumbers”) because they take in multiple leads via their fake listings network.
Inaccurate Address or Information
Occasionally I will come across an address that isn’t correct, or there is no building, just an empty lot. Business close and business owners often forget or don’t know they need to close their listing on Google. A few times, I called and drove to a business to find out the company went out of business. In a few instances, the address leads me to an empty lot.
How to report these violations?
There are two main ways to report the violations.
Suggest an Edit
Suggest an edit on the business profile is a fast way to report a listing in Google. This is great for businesses that have closed or have a misleading address. This is usually the first place I start unless the infraction is more server.
Business Redressal Complaint Form
This is the most effective way to report spam. This form will also let you add a summary of why the company is in violation and allow you to upload documentation.
Keep in mind that with both methods, it can take time. It can take weeks or months, but once the business is removed, it can increase your local reach.
Spam fighting is just one small aspect of local SEO. Don’t think this is a be-all-end-all to your local SEO efforts. It can certainly have a huge impact on reach, but you need a well-rounded approach that includes content creation, reviews, link building, and on-page SEO for total domination.
If your business needs help with your local SEO, contact us for a free consolation. We do not provide cookie-cutter SEO plans, and we would love to show you our amazing results.