Optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) profile is critical to your company’s success in local search engine optimization (SEO). Not only will you show up in Google maps and local search results so customers can find you, but you can also display important information about your business, link important articles or upcoming events, and showcase your customer reviews.
However, the prevalence of GMB spam is on the rise and affecting the local search rankings of many businesses, often without them realizing it. To ensure the honest work you have done for your business is given its fair representation in search results, you now need to monitor the local search listings and understand how to combat GMB spam efforts to maintain your rightful position in Google Maps.
GMB spam happens when businesses use unethical tactics to manipulate Google’s algorithm. Spam can appear in a variety of formats, including:
Google’s GMB guidelines state that business listings should use the business’ real-world name as it’s represented on signage, stationary, and other branding materials. Businesses engaging in keyword stuffing may add keywords and locations to their GMB name to break into the top 3 positions. For service area businesses, we have seen cases where a fake profile is created using just a keyword for the business name and phone number, without a website or address.
Let’s look at two examples found in recent searches to illustrate how common this remains:
In a search for “personal injury attorney San Diego,” a second result in maps shows where the company added the keyword and location as their business name to rank (this is not their business name).
In another search for “Accounting and Bookkeeping Denver,” a top result is a keyword-stuffed business name that has no website, no reviews, and no physical business address – just a phone number to call.
In this case, spammers create duplicate listings to increase their exposure. By creating a second listing with a false business address or slightly modified business name, some spammers are able to slip past Google and show up several times in search results.
Spammers may create fake reviews to make their business look better. They may create positive reviews under their own business listing or post fake negative reviews on their competitor’s pages. Google makes it easy for anyone to leave a business review and does little to check the authenticity of reviews.
Google largely relies on user reports to combat GMB spam, so it’s important to report it when you see it. In late 2019, Google launched a tool to help combat this problem – the Business Redressal Complaint Form. If you think you’ve found a case of spam, the best course of action is to submit a Business Redressal Complaint Form. To strengthen your case against GMB spam, you’ll need to compile evidence and submit your findings on your Redressal Form. BrightLocal has compiled a list of what evidence will and won’t be accepted and how to fill out the form to get the best possible results.
If you believe a business has engaged in keyword stuffing but is using an accurate name and location, suggesting an edit may be your best first step. When suggesting an edit, don’t use the email address on file with your own business’ GMB listing, as this could cause your listing to be suspended. If you check back and your edit has not been accepted, go forward with the Redressal form.
GMB and reputation management is an ever-evolving tool in your marketing strategy. To make sure GMB is working as best as possible for you, pay attention to your map rankings and investigate any major changes. Even if you don’t experience any changes, it’s still good practice to check for spam often.
If you’re concerned about your GMB performance or want assistance in spam monitoring, contact Fruition. Our SEO experts excel at optimizing local GMB listings, reputation management, and spam monitoring. If we do find a case of spam, we’ll help you through the redressal process to get your business back on top.
Jeff Williams is an SEO Project Manager at Fruition. He uses his deep understanding of SEO and internet marketing to guide clients, optimize websites and ultimately improve search rankings. Jeff continues to focus on understanding the technical aspects of SEO factors that affect website rankings in the major search engines. He has recently found a passion in local marketing and helping business carry out effective digital marketing strategies, taking a lead role in developing Fruition’s local SEO services.
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