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  1. #1
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    Thumbs up A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

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    A rather nasty problem surfaced in the Google Business forum. I wanted to share it here so folks are aware. (Excuse the scary title, but it's Halloween week and this is pretty horrific!)

    There are lots of reasons to check your live listing as well as your dashboard. Google edits, occasional bugs, user edits and this... Competitor sabotage and customer stealing, by putting their ad and phone # on your listing. (Although hate to call the crappy images above and below ads, but they are.)

    Now granted this is a locksmith, so hopefully other main stream businesses would not face this type of competitor sabotage.

    BUT I've seen this happen in other industries and there was even a course proudly offered (by a person I won't name) teaching how to steal customers by squatting an ad with phone # via an image on your competitor's listings. (Same concept, still GMB listings, different delivery method.)

    So here is the thread at the Google Forum and below it my warning about how a similar but even worse black hat trick is played. Along with research I dug up for Google that surfaced some other profiles doing the same thing.


    Trinity Locksmith Wrote:
    how to stop bacigalupo locksmith from posting his advertising on my pictures profile



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    Trinity Locksmith: "I've reported the issue more times that I can count, and no I cannot delete them because his posting them from the post a picture for this business in google maps. The pics that he posts are not in my albums its so frustrating not to be able to do anything. He did not hack my account he's doing it from the customer interface where you are allowed to post pics for any business that you visit."

    The situation above I believe was user uploaded images. That's kinda straight forward.
    IT GETS WORSE! Like a good detective I followed the trail, err... Google profile.

    Look what I found on the review page of the guy that did the images above:
    Felipe Deborbon Reviews - Google+ MUST CLICK & SEE WHAT'S INSIDE!.



    Here's a screenshot of just 1 tiny part in case Google removes by the time you see this.
    There are pages and pages like this.



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    '


    123 Reviews. Almost all are competitive sabotage by advertising on other locksmith's listings.

    HERE IS THE TRICKY PART. He leaves a 5 star rating, most often with no review. Just 5 stars. The business owner loves it and does not question it. BUT with the review, he uploads one of these image ads (if you can even call this crap an ad.)

    Some of the reviews aren't images. They are text ads in the reviews like:

    "1000% SCAMS CALL ONLY TO REAL LOCKSMITH_3052OO I I OO FOR SERVICE"

    Here is a single 3 line review. Can't believe this passed the filter.
    "_3O5_2OO11OO_EMERGENCY LOCKOUTS 24 HOURS ALL SOUTH FLORIDA IN MINUTES _3O5_2OO11OO_EMERGENCY LOCKOUTS 24 HOURS ALL SOUTH FLORIDA IN MINUTES _3O5_2OO11OO_EMERGENCY LOCKOUTS 24 HOURS ALL SOUTH FLORIDA IN MINUTES"


    Now you wouldn't think the review filter would even let reviews like that by. Not with all caps and phone #s. But I guess that's why he formatted the # oddly - to bypass the filters.

    You certainly wouldn't think TODAY's review filter would let those caps and that wording fly right? Here is a review he placed on a Condominium listing, just 2 weeks ago.

    "LOOK original locks "ALMET" (ORIGINAL GRAND LOCK) CALL BACIGALUPO LOCKSMITH __3O5_2OO I I OO__."

    Here are 3 more profiles - same guy. He Posted 51 - 73 more defacing ads per profile:
    Ronald Western - Google+
    RAUL ZU—IGA - Google+
    Westtelly Zurruniag - Google+

    Tim Capper, one of our Google Top Contributors escalated the thread above to Google management and I bumped it a couple times to add those additional profiles. I'm sure there are more and I'm sure the very capable Google spam team will be able to track any additional related profiles down easier than I could.

    And hopefully outing this very sleazy practice, will give Google the opportunity to plug a few more holes that unscrupulous business owners and marketers use to.

    I told Google:

    "The guy doing the defacing & competitive sabotage, seriously needs to be banned.

    Not just from GMB or Google, but from ever using the Internet again!"


    So next time you check your client's live listing to be sure the data is correct, peek at the images too. Hopefully this is not a widespread practice. But I've seen it a few times before and I bet at least 100 businesses and consultants (with who knows how many clients each), took that course teaching how to do something very similar with image ads on competitor's listings. And you know how black hat tricks like this can spread. Like the plague!

    Have you ever had any horror stories like this
    with client reviews or client images?

    EDITED TO ADD: Yikes! See new reply in post #3 below. And new example Post #13


    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

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  3. #2
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    WOW - I've seen this before, but that's a whole new level of insane with that. And shady with the 5 star reviews, because you are right, that's not going to flag anyone.

    We've seen a couple of these, but it's more one off for us - I've seen a couple of disgruntled employees who were let go will tag a business with bad photos (them flipping off the camera, other offensive ones) but we always just go in and been able to report it as offensive. This is a whole new level of shady.
    -----
    CDK Global SEO Specialist & Local Listings Guru

  4. #3
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

    CHECK THIS! New reply at the Google Forum:

    daymig1229

    "Linda do you know any white hats that can take this monster of the net? Apparently I have a college that had the same problem with bacigalupo years ago and he told me that this guy told him that he was a "google expert tech and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him from doing what his doing"
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  5. #4
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    All I can say is "WOW". It doesn't get much more blatant than that. How can G let these "reviews" go through?! Disappointing to say the least.
    Scott Rawlins - Find Local Company in Atlanta GA
    Follow Me on G+

  6. #5
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    But on the flip side Scott...

    It's crap like this that makes Google have to tighten the filter so much that innocent, honest reviews don't get through either.

    So I know for them it's always a tricky balance between thwarting the bad guys, yet trying not to throw too many babies out with the bath water.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  7. #6
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    Yes, I suppose that's true. It certainly is a tough balance for G.
    Scott Rawlins - Find Local Company in Atlanta GA
    Follow Me on G+

  8. #7
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    Wow. Makes you wonder what kind of customer would be dumb enough to call that guy....

    By the way, please let me know if you run across any equally bogus Yelp reviews.

  9. #8
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    Love the title of the post Linda. I'm always amazed at the idiots that spam the world. I would hope that any user seeing this would be so turned off by the slimy tactic that they would warn people never to do business with that company.

    The phone #s in the reviews slipped by because he didn't use the right characters (those aren't zeros) and he used underscores instead of dashes.

    Looks like the guy behind it is a serial online spammer - Ripoff Report | Peter Vasigalupo Complaint Review Miami, Florida: 1167988
    Joy Hawkins
    Owner of Sterling Sky
    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.

  10. #9
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    Ya I agree Joy.

    What I don't get is... those images are SOOOOO crappy, I can't even believe he thinks anyone would be compelled to call him.

    They are so bad, that I wondered for a minute if the opposite was going on. That someone did all these to get HIM in trouble and make HIM look bad.

    But I only wondered that for a second. No one would go to this extent and do that many images and reviews. I'm sure there are more. My carpal made me stop after the 4th profile.

    Thanks for the ripoff report link. I was not physically able to do any more research beyond GMB.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".

  11. #10
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    Re: A Horror Story: Check Your Google Local Listings - Don't Let This Happen to You

    thanks for the heads up

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