Can I really do anything about local search cheaters?

Lester Sharpe

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
3
Hi. I run a website for a Service Area Business, and we've set it up properly by hiding our address. In my city, there are probably 20 others in the same business, and very few of us have hidden our address. The others are all showing a location, even though not one of them has an actual storefront - they all operate out of private residences. I know pins instead of circles is not the only factor in local search rankings, but it seems to be some of it.

Also, the same as I read on another thread here, some of them have set up multiple locations in the same city and appear numerous times on the local search map. In one case, they have the same phone number and use two different names for the business. They somehow have three markers on the map. Another company has one circle and two pins.

I'm working hard to move my ranking up and keep it there, reading and applying every SEO tip I can find and gradually showing some success. I've still got a way to go, but it's coming.

I'm not asking the question below to find an easy way to move up in the search results, but I do find it frustrating that others seem to violate the rules and take up the map markers unfairly with no consequences. (Unless I'm misunderstanding what is allowed, in which case, forget all this :eek:)

Does reporting violations really do any good? I'm reluctant to do that, because it seems like "tattling", and I'm not sure how to report it anyway. But it would be nice if those of us who follow the rules had at least the same opportunity as those who don't. Especially those who have multiple sites for a SAB.

Any suggestions? Or should I just forget about it, hard as that may be?
 

Colan Nielsen

Administrator
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
3,237
Hi Lester,

Welcome to the forum!

Something tells me your client is in the locksmith industry..

Unfortunately, all the things you mentioned run rampant in the world of Google Places. The good news is that none of the spammy practices that you are seeing are sustainable. Eventually Google will take notice and the house of cards will come crashing down. The wheel of fortune goes round and round.

I personally have no problem reporting spammy practices to Google when I see them. It's super easy to do, there are several ways to do it. Google doesn't always nuke the spammers right away, but it's worth the effort to keep reporting.

You should also know that Google has come right out and stated that hiding your address does NOT affect ranking.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,535
@Lester

Colan nailed it. Reporting usually does work, and there's nothing wrong with it. If your competitors are determined to eat your lunch, at least make them work for it. You do have the same opportunity as others do. But not flagging down violations - AKA unfair advantages - as you see them is like walking around your old high school with "Kick Me" scrawled in permanent marker on your jeans.

Go forth and report.
 

Lester Sharpe

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
3
Thanks Colan and Phil.

I'm not, thankfully, in the locksmith business. I hear that is a real problem field.

There may be a better place to ask this, but I don't want to be one of the people others complain about, and you guys seem pretty knowledgeable, so I'll ask here. My home address, which is what I've used everywhere in getting citations and links, is located on the outskirts of my city. I use "Distance from one location" with a radius to show my service area. The "one location" I've listed is near the center of the city, not my home address. I think that's OK, but if its not, can you please let me know so I can change it ASAP.

The other thing I'm wondering is about reporting businesses that are violating the TOS. I know I report them one at a time, but should I report them all at once, or should I spread it out over a period of time? Is the best way to do this from the "Report a problem" link? And does the information go just to Google, or can my competitors identify the source of the report (me)? I wouldn't imagine so, but it would be nice to have that confirmed.

Thanks for your help. I've just discovered this forum, and I think it'll be very useful.

Lester.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,437
Hi Lester,

For service area it won't affect ranking no matter how you set it but with address hidden, it does affect where your marker is. Instead of entering an address different from where you are at, just enter city only, without your zip and it will put you right in the middle of the city.

As far as I know your name will not show when you do Report a Problem. Now if you did "?dit details" on the listing your name may show in the edits, if by chance they had someone pretty savvy working for them that knows where to look. But most business owners would not know where to look.

FYI if address is hidden, like it sounds like some of the additional locations are, then I think Report a Problem does not work. Try it, but I think that's the case.
 

Lester Sharpe

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2013
Messages
3
Thanks, Linda.

I checked the "Report a Problem" and the "Edit Details" and I come up with the same reporting page, so I'm not sure what to do. I REALLY do not want to be identified as I'm not certain what the consequences might be if I were to report a competitor. I'll have to think about it, after I search around to see if there is any other means of reporting. Paranoia is my hobby!

Thanks for the info telling me that hiding my address has no effect on ranking. Good to know.

Just to add a bit of my history here, I originally showed my address as well when I first edited my places page. When I realized, a month later, that I had made a mistake, I corrected it, and dropped out of site for a while. It took about 2 months to reappear. In that time, I called google a few times, and I've got to say, the service was excellent. From the moment I clicked the button to get a call-back from Google till I was talking to an actual human was always less than one minute! And the service reps I spoke to were knowledgeable and helpful in every case.

Lester.
 

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