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  1. #1
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    Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    I saw this post today, thought it might make for an interesting discussion.

    You happen to have an employee who lives in Norman and a second who lives in Edmond. When you get roofing jobs in those cities, both employees leave from their homes to arrive at the job site within five to 10 minutes. To cast a wider net and expand your service area, create new Google My Business pages using the employees’ addresses. Hide the addresses, since you don’t want customers to come to their homes.

    read full article here
    The article's about two 'strategic opportunities' for local businesses. The second one's definitely against Google TOS. Having new business locations registered at employees houses isn't an opportunity, so much a chance to frustrate Joy and all the other spam fighters fighting the good fight in lieu of Google cleaning things up themselves.

    The first one's a little more of a gray area. The idea, is that few GMB listings show for more than a relatively limited area of service. So what happens if you do product photography and wedding photography? Or if you brew alcohol, but also have a tavern customers can sit in? The article's advice basically is to make a separate incorporation, new website, new phone number etc. and get two listings.

    Google's exact words are:
    Do not create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts.

    For each department, the category that is the most representative of that department must be different from that of the main business and that of other departments.
    So from one of the articles examples:
    A residential contractor is now known as “Smith Custom Fencing” and “Smith Roofing & Construction.” Two websites with two unique brands and a better opportunity to capture leads online.

    What's the vote? Kosher or spam? If you had a client wanting to turn their one company into two, would you talk them out of it, or help them do it? Personally I think it's a gray enough area that my answer might change from case to case, but I just I'd see what everyone else thought.

    On another note, Joy, does Search Engine Land vet their guest post articles for content, or how'd something like this get published?

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  3. #2
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    Nice catch. Definitely against the GMB guidelines. Can't create listings for employees.
    Colan Nielsen l GMB Top Contributor
    Vice President, Local Search at Sterling Sky
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  4. #3
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    Thanks for sharing James!

    My Tweet from this AM after I read it:




    Bad advice all around IMO. Wouldn't advise either one.
    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: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    Search Engine Land has really been publishing a lot of crap lately. Do they even have editors or fact checkers? I've lost all respect for that organization after the last couple of "experts" decided to share their opinions around online marketing.

    One clown said technical SEO isn't important, and content strategy is all that matters. Clearly that guy has no idea what he's doing when it comes to code, and is a transplant marketer from a dying PR agency. This other "author" decides to tell newbies and small business owners who turn to SEL for helpful info to violate the guidelines Google laid out for GMB.

    SEL is slowly moving from a trusted source of knowledge to an industry disgrace, because of some of the people they allow on their site. If they just vet some of these people a little more and check what they're saying, I wouldn't be voicing this concern.

    To be fair to SEL though, it's not all their fault. If these authors would care more about the substance of their article and less about getting a freaking backlink to their website. Forget about the stupid link for once and care about the real potential to hurt a business that could follow bad advice. That's what annoys me the most. I wish people would care a little more about who they could hurt, and try a little harder to put out genuinely good tips for others to follow. Clearly these writers haven't personally helped a failing business and don't understand. That being said, if they don't really understand then they shouldn't be writing about it.
    My rarely updated website (I should fix that) - https://www.ericrohrback.com
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  6. #5
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    Great post and I like the discussion.

    I'm very interested in the outright condemnation of the "use an employee to create a second SAB office".

    I see that as spammy. . . especially if done at scale. But, say that I am a plumber, and I have a guy in Queens who can be there quicker than my other guy in Manhattan. . . Isn't it legitimate that they should let customers know that?

    The alternative for this guy is to create a second office out in queens, but, that really does nobody any real good - it's just a waste.

    so, while I see all kind of opportunities for spam, I also see it as somewhat legitimate. Help me see the light on this.

  7. #6
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    I get your point. But think like Google (or consumers).

    Let's say there are 10 plumbers in a town. But 10 plumbers that are in surrounding towns, NOT in that town, have 10 employees there and they all set up listings.

    Now there are 110 plumber listings in that town, but there are really only 10 businesses that are in that town. That pay rent there, taxes there, support the community there, etc.

    If you were one of the 10, wouldn't you report the others that you knew were not really there?

    There are cases at the GMB forum where businesses had their entire account suspended with all their listings. That means their 1 legit listing is gone too!
    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".

  8. #7
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    The employee address thing is pretty cut and dry.

    "Do not create more than one page for each location of your business, either in a single account or multiple accounts."

    Does your business have separate locations registered at your employee's houses? No? Then don't create another page.

    Besides, the plumber example is bad since it's a service area business. By rule you need to hide your address and set a service area on the map, with the exception of having a brick and mortar location customers can walk in (say you sell supplies/toilets or something). Even there, you can't create pages for locations you serve but aren't physically located in.

    "But, say that I am a plumber, and I have a guy in Queens who can be there quicker than my other guy in Manhattan. . . Isn't it legitimate that they should let customers know that?"

    Yes, you should but in the correct way. List it on the website, don't create more GMB pages. Use local landing pages, and design a way to highlight multiple locations. Creating more GMB pages is spammy, it's against the guidelines, and it's a very lazy attempt to get ahead.

    Like Linda said, your whole account could get suspended if you do that. If I'm working for a competitor and someone did that for their client, I'd build it into the strategy to take down the fake listings.
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  9. #8
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    I'm agreeing with what you guys are saying. . . and Linda's example of 110 plumbers in one town is great. I want to keep on challenging you guys a bit, so that I understand it better

    But - what makes this so compelling is that the local 3 pack sucks up so much traffic - it makes local landing pages seem like a waste of time. I admit, I need to work on my local landing page game, but, for the most part, I haven't driven a substantial amoutn of traffic with them.

    let me ask this: for your local landing pages, are they getting volume on terms where the local 3 pack appears, or is it for instances when that does not appear (more long tail terms).

  10. #9
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    Depends on the business type (annoying answer, I know).

    Sticking with the plumber scenario, if you have a wide service area but only work out of your house, then local landing pages is what you need to do. The GMB page would be set to the homepage, since that would have the most authority and would be able to cover all your bases (if you designed it correctly).

    Service-area businesses--business that serve customers at their locations--should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point.

    That being the case, you can't create more pages for all the locations you serve. You'll have the one central page for all service areas, but use the local landing pages for organic traffic.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, if you're fully relying on Google 3-pack traffic as your source of leads then it might be time to overhaul your strategy. Diversify your traffic streams. People need to stop trying to break the rules; they're not as hard to follow as people make them out to be. There's a big difference between being creative with opportunities and blatantly spamming.

    You have to think about these scenarios from more angles than just your client's. Think about Google's perspective, think about the potential customer scenarios, think about what your competitors are doing. If you can't get in the 3 pack without spamming, then find a new way to drive traffic to the site.
    My rarely updated website (I should fix that) - https://www.ericrohrback.com
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  11. #10
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    Re: Questionable Advice on recent Search Engine Land article

    I completely agree with you Eric, any business owner that's relying one one source of business is built on a house of cards, especially one as potentially unstable as the 3-pack. Even referral relationships with related business owners (A calligrapher with connections to a busy wedding planner in town for example) is a bad idea to rely on as a sole source of leads (what if the relationship falls apart, they move, or they meet a new calligrapher they like better?), but the 3-pack? It's absolutely worth working towards, it's well worth the investment, but it's too risky to safely use as a a core part of the business plan.

    Backtracking a bit though, I agree as well about SEL doing a really poor job vetting this article, but I was curious about your quip about the technical SEO article. Were you talking about this one? The article was a little fluffy (more of an opinion piece than anything really useful) but I thought the opinion was spot on. In my view, technical SEO is where you lose points if you screw up, but you can't gain all the points by doing it well. No amount of technical SEO will get you to the top of a high competition area, though if you otherwise have a great foundation you could definitely screw it up by botching the site. Were you thinking of a different article, or do you disagree on where technical SEO fits into the toolbelt? With local at least, I've been seeing a huge correlation between backlink profile and ranking. An SEO consultant hanging their hat purely on onsite without address backlinks and citations would be hard pressed to deliver results, unless they're working out in the sticks.

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