Competitor spamming GMB ( I think)


greenfiend

Forum Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
7
So, I don’t know if this is a thing in certain industries when companies create multiple GMB listings, but I noticed this from a competitor in my local area in DTLA that basically used the same interior photos on one of their GMB listings on another listing, thinking no one will notice I suppose. I decided to do some digging to see which office is which and hopefully I can share my findings here since I haven’t been able to get a response over on the GMB forum to investigate further. (I don’t like to “bump” my own posts up if no one replies.)

I found a few other things as well in my investigation on this law firm and I documented them on a shared google doc. Hopefully someone here with a little spare time can let me know if I completely wasted my time on them or not.

GMB law firm spam

I didn’t state this in the doc since it’s not specifically GMB related, but I am definitely maybe 78.2% sure this firm is using a discreet agency or individual that builds either hidden PBNs (as well as a handful of not so hidden ones that for some reason or another he/she/they decided not to hide) or at least well disguised/implemented PBNs that have kept them "dancing" around the top 3 rankings for a particularly competitive target keyword in LA. It just seems suspect not just to me but also fellow competitors in the area in regards to this firm’s steady rankings, unmoved even by the recent volatile ranking shifts in the past several months or so while the rest of us have been wrestling with our blankets and gnawing at our pillows at night hoping we still have jobs the next morning. (Not me personally of course but I'm 78.2% sure my fellow competitors are).
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,425
@greenfiend, I have some familiarity with that specific market (PI attorneys in LA), and can say there is heavy use of virtual offices and the like.

You didn't waste your time. Quite the contrary.
 

greenfiend

Forum Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
7
Thanks, Phil! Oh, then you definitely know about the rampant issue of virtual offices in the SoCal area. It's just that short of physically paying a visit to these locations can we really have proof whether they are legit offices or empty spaces.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,425
Sure do.

The traffic is probably a good protective moat, dissuading most competitors from visiting those virtual offices on recon missions.
 

greenfiend

Forum Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
7
Good research, to make your time quicker next time, just search for the address -suite , if it is virtual then you can go ahead and report it. Also, I would check the bar as well just in case.

Feel free to flag this on the GMB Forums and one of us can escalate it.
Thank you, Ben! Will do.
 

Michael S. Doran

Forum Member
Joined
Nov 18, 2013
Messages
94
What I find strange is how Google really doesn't care about spam that is very obviously blatant. I have recently suggested edits for fake business names like, ABC Company LLC - Reputable Garage Door Springs Repair | Replacement Anytown USA only to have those edits rejected. If they won't make simple corrections for spammy names like that, what do they care about?
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,425
What I find strange is how Google really doesn't care about spam that is very obviously blatant. I have recently suggested edits for fake business names like, ABC Company LLC - Reputable Garage Door Springs Repair | Replacement Anytown USA only to have those edits rejected. If they won't make simple corrections for spammy names like that, what do they care about?
Not getting bad press, not getting sued, not getting more regulated, and continuing to stuff ads into every crack.

To what extent have you tried partial edits on those names? (I.e. not necessarily removing all the offending bits.) Those work, far more often than not.
 

BenFisher

Local Search Expert
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
184
While edits are all good and nice, reporting the listing is a great approach. Sometimes, ok most of the time, a profile that is super spammy will also uncover other things to Google that can lead to suspensions and removals. An example of this is a SAB with a spammy name. While we may not know this, it could be at a PO Box or a VO and Google will take action during the investigation.
 

greenfiend

Forum Member
Joined
May 16, 2016
Messages
7
Just an update to the outcome of my GMB spam report against a law firm I suspected of using some VOs from two weeks ago.

One of their LA offices, which I made the case was likely a VO and not some satellite office, that I caught having a duplicate listing as well only had the duplicate removed, but their other listing remained without any suspension.

Their "main" LA office as displayed on their website did receive a soft suspension in the week of my report to the GMB Spam & Policy forum. Their listing was not completely taken down and could still be found but their reviews and rankings were gone. And in just a short week they're back up again. They likely just reverified their location, which I'm sure is not that hard to do even for VOs.

I still stand by my suspicion that this firm's one and only legit office is in the same address found on the California SOS site. It's the one office where their interior photos are from and used on all of their other GMB listings. I know it's not direct proof, but either they're lazy and don't care or they know it doesn't matter because they won't get dinged.

I didn't even begin to mention in my initial report the handful of Google reviews on their "main" LA GMB listing that are clearly fakes. All the reviews that use the exact phrase "Los Angeles personal injury attorney" are fake. One look at each of those users' review history will reveal them. They specifically like that keyword. It's their bread and butter.

So, if anything, this has been educational. Apologies for this follow up sounding like a rant, but I've just come to the conclusion that this was a lost cause. Like Phil mentioned before there are clearly problems with VOs and law firms in this area. It's unfortunate that the fact of the matter is if a listing means that much to a business they will run into little resistance getting their listing back almost immediately if they've been suspended.

I didn't report this particular law firm because of some blood feud. But it does bother me wondering if I'm not the only one who might think about other competitors in the area doing the same easy competitor research and in their findings say to themselves, "well it's working for these guys and they're getting away with it so we'll do the same." That's ultimately what I'm afraid of.

I'm sorry. I tried not to rant. :(
 

Similar threads


Local Search Forum


Weekly Digest
Subscribe/Unsubscribe


Google Product Exert

@LocalSearchLink

Join Our Facebook Group

Top