What is more frustrating then following all the rules with your Google My Business listing and then watching as the map pack and the entire results of a Google Maps search return entry after entry of fake or spammed listings. They show up much higher than you do and yet you feel like there is nothing you can do.
The most common issues are downright fake Google My Business listings, and then listings with an incorrect business name, phone number or URL. The most annoying spam issues seem to be an outright fake listing or business name.
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What is a fake Google My Business or Google Maps Listing?
A fake Google My Business listing is intended to give the user the impression that the business with the name, address and URL exists as it shows up in maps. You might wonder, why would someone do that, how would someone do that, and what does a fake/spam Google My Business listing look like.
The main reason a company would do this is that they want to seem relevant in an area they don’t have a physical location. So they make a fake listing.
In San Diego County, California there is a City with 175,000 people, this is a large city. If you search “Oceanside Movers” you get the coveted Map Pack to show up like this
The one listing looks fake to me. Let’s investigate. Wonder if the name of the actual company is “Oceanside Movers – Moving Company” and if the website goes to a company with that name and phone number and information on it. Keep in mind this is extremely valuable real estate for this search as the map pack shows up higher than the ads and the organic results.
If I hold my cursor of the “Website” icon in the map pack I get to see the URL they are using. It is movingoceansidemovers.com. When I click on it, it starts to open, then redirects to this:
This is clearly a fake listing. Let’s compare the Google My Business and the Google Maps listing to the real website. Fake name, fake URL, fake phone number.
What is a Spam Google My Business or Google Maps Listing
What is more common is that a listing will be real, the website and phone number is real as is the address and location … but somehow the name has local keyword stuffing in it. The idea behind that is that if the company is not located physically where the majority of search takes place the company will prepend or append the name of the City to their company name. That way when someone searches with the City name in the service, the intention is to spam Google to get the listing to come up.
If you search “san diego movers” and take a look at the Google My Business listings within the map pack you see the following results:
Now unless the actual, legal name of this company includes the term “Movers San Diego” then this is spam! You are not supposed to add anything into the name of your company into the listing. Gee this looks suspicious and I wonder if it is spam….
Hmm… the legal name looks like Rhino Moving, LLC. So strike 1! Well I guess they could have a DBA (legal entity for another name) so I think I will check with the State of California, who licenses moving companies and check this out. I am sure they wouldn’t try and spam Google just to cheat competitors out of positions.
Well they are licensed at least but they do not have a DBA with the words “Movers San Diego” in it. Strike 2! Spam. This is so unfair, so frustrating!! But what can we do about it? Doesn’t Google care about fake and spam Google My Business and Google Maps listings?
Well, yes and there is something you can do; and we can tell you from personal experience and that of other agencies, Google WILL do something about it. But sadly, at this point someone does need to report it. Google does not seem to have a way to monitor these listings once they are verified and added by Google.
How Do I Report Fake or Spam Google My Business or Google Maps Listings?
Up until this point you could report it directly in the fake or spammy Google My Business listing inside of Google Maps. In fact you still can.
To report you simply click on the “suggest an edit” button on either the GMB or the Maps listing. Up will pop a box and you can “suggest” a change of name or other details ore even that the location is closed, non-existent or a duplicate listing.
In our experience this can work for a fake listing. They will remove it. But it isn’t very effective and there are better ways to do this. Prior to the writing of this blog post there was a Google monitored forum here
But Marrissa at Google has just announced that they will be closing this forum and have come up with a better way to report spam or fake listings. You can now use this Form to report any misleading, fake or fraudulent activity for Google My Business and Google Map listings.
Simply fill out the information on the listing and submit. Also, and even more exciting is if you find multiple issues in your area – which is very typical, you can put them on a spreadsheet, upload and take care of all of them at once!
How Long Does it Take Google To Fix or Remove Spam/Fake Google My Business and Google Map Listings?
Well our experience is it can take 2-3 weeks but sometimes it can be much faster and they aren’t going to tell you when/if they do. You should simply set your calendar to check back on your own and make sure they are fixed. Also let’s be realistic. It is very likely your competitors will simply change the listing again. One day I hope Google will penalize companies for fake or spam listings but for now you need to be happy with their removal or corrections. It’s worth the effort.
Other Ways to Contact Google My Business and Google Maps
We get asked the following questions over and over, and in fact we used to ask them!
How do I call Google My Business? I want to talk to a Google My Business Specialist! What is the Google My Business support phone number?
Believe it or not if you ask, Google My Business customer support will call you! Just fill out this form and wait by your phone.
Two other ways to directly contact Google My Business or Google Maps support
Indeed there are 2 other really great ways you can directly get in contact with Google My Business support or customer service. The first is through Twitter. Just click here https://twitter.com/GoogleMyBiz and you can directly message them. The second is through the Google My Business Facebook page. Just click here https://www.facebook.com/GoogleMyBusiness/ and you can directly message them.
Don’t just get frustrated, report! Good luck.
By the way, thank you to Joy Hawkins of Sterling Sky for tirelessly giving all of us the information and support we need to negotiate Google My Business and Google Maps.