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Thread: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

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    Elliot is offline Member
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    3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    I'm trying to help a client who was paying a monthly fee to have a website + "optimization" for their business. We have since transferred the domain out of the 3rd party's hands and into the clients. But now the company is refusing to give us the access to our property. They have since changed the ranking listing to a generic name and changed the phone number.

    I know this is going to nuke the listing in no time. Isn't this a violation of Googles ToS? What course of action do I have?

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    heckler is offline Member
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Have you contacted support? Even if they won't give it to you, after 7 days with no response Google will remove their control of it. That might be the best place to start.
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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Good point Bryan!

    I'd also email and remind the other SEO company of the guidelines, especially this part which is under "Additional guidelines for authorized representatives".

    Always respond to management access requests promptly, and always transfer listing ownership to the business owner immediately upon request. Authorized representatives must, whenever possible, encourage the business owner to create an account, own the listing, and add authorized representatives as managers. Learn more about transferring ownership

    Failure to adhere to these policies may result in a suspension for the listing and/or account.
    If they are dumb enough to try to hijack a listing, they probably have all their clients in one account and they could all get nuked.

    And threaten to report them to Google. (Mainly in hopes of changing their ways so they don't do this to everyone. The average SMB would not know how to fight it.)


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    Elliot is offline Member
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by heckler View Post
    Have you contacted support? Even if they won't give it to you, after 7 days with no response Google will remove their control of it. That might be the best place to start.
    Thanks for the info guys! What the company is claiming now is that since they changed the name of a listing to a generic name (even though it still has all the old reviews) they're under no obligation to return it to us since they're no longer optimising it.

    I called support but they said we needed access to the account email in order to claim it. How do I prove to google I've requested access to it? Is there a better channel of contact than phone?

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    heckler is offline Member
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
    Thanks for the info guys! What the company is claiming now is that since they changed the name of a listing to a generic name (even though it still has all the old reviews) they're under no obligation to return it to us since they're no longer optimising it.

    I called support but they said we needed access to the account email in order to claim it. How do I prove to google I've requested access to it? Is there a better channel of contact than phone?
    Not all Google reps are equal, if I get an answer from a Google rep that I know is garbage I'll just call again. My advice would be calling again and explaining the situation completely (in addition to doing what Linda suggested - my guess is they don't care about Google's ToS though, but at least you'll have a paper-trail).

    It sounds like they got tied up with a particularly useless company that is hijacking aged listings from churned clients for some kind of affiliate marketing angle... makes my blood boil.

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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    What we all need to remind ourselves is that no business goes out of its way to piss people off. A client who comes to you with trouble will typically leave with more trouble.

    I would say to get the whole story as to why this client stopped using that company and go from there.
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by theitsage View Post
    What we all need to remind ourselves is that no business goes out of its way to piss people off. A client who comes to you with trouble will typically leave with more trouble.

    I would say to get the whole story as to why this client stopped using that company and go from there.
    While I agree that it's very important to get both sides of the story in any situation, the annoying truth is that I have seen several cases over the last few years of companies who basically hold listings hostage and use other scare tactics in order to prevent a lost sale.

    And there has indeed been cases in the past where a "business" did something to a clients listing to "get even" or piss them off.
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Start here:

    https://support.google.com/business/.../4566671?hl=en

    Specifically this:

    Can't contact the current listing owner
    You can also contact the current listing owner through Google My Business.

    Note: This process may take several weeks, and only the current listing owner can add you as a listing manager or transfer ownership of the listing to you.

    I would also recommend calling support from 8 to noon pacific time in hopes of getting support from the US.

    Joy raves about GMB twitter support.

    You need to find an experienced rep that knows about listings being hijacked by spammers. And yes, the old firm quacks and walks like a spam group.

    It could also be beneficial to have a TC at Google like Joy or Colin help.

    Don't give up. Someone with experience at GMB will be able to see unusal activity by the SEO snake.

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    Elliot is offline Member
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by CodyBaird View Post
    You need to find an experienced rep that knows about listings being hijacked by spammers. And yes, the old firm quacks and walks like a spam group.

    It could also be beneficial to have a TC at Google like Joy or Colin help.

    Don't give up. Someone with experience at GMB will be able to see unusal activity by the SEO snake.
    Thank you so much for all the advice everyone! I'm in the UK at the moment but I'm going to give them a ring at 8 PST.

    The company im fighting against is 411locals, which after researching them a bit is apparantly a notoriously awful company to deal with, but still quite popular.

    I'll give everyone an update once I speak to GMB customer support.
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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: 3rd party SEO company holding clients GMB listing hostage

    Quote Originally Posted by Elliot View Post
    Thanks for the info guys! What the company is claiming now is that since they changed the name of a listing to a generic name (even though it still has all the old reviews) they're under no obligation to return it to us since they're no longer optimising it.
    And I bet their next step is to try to "sell" that listing to a competitor and change it again to their name and phone #. In fact it could have belonged to someone else before your client got it. Not sure how they get away with changing to KW names and how do they handle verification? Guess via phone. :-(

    This just makes my blood boil every time I read it!

    Knowing who it is, my advice to email them the guidelines and a warning, probably won't help. They likely know and purposely do it anyway.

    Good advice from everyone!

    I'd do it like Cody suggested AND tell them who the SEO company is, because they have probably gotten other complaints.

    BUT if you can't get help from support, the best way to escalate up the chain (after trying support) is post this at the G forum. Then give me a link to your post here in this thread and I'll escalate to Google.
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