Huge News: A New Way to Report Spam on Google My Business


JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,478
Marrissa Nordahl from Google just posted an announcement that there is a new way for users to report offenders that are spamming on Google Maps/Google My Business.

You can now do so by filling in this form which will submit a report to the Google My Business team. Another huge announcement attached to this is that the Google Product Experts will no longer be able to assist with spam reports since they are retiring the spam section the forum (I can't say I'm sad about this).

I just asked Google a few questions about it and got some answers for you all.

Do I get a response when the report was processed?
You'll get a generic response but it will be just like social support where they tell you that since it's not a business you manage, you won't get an update on what happened. For this reason, I suggest setting a reminder for yourself to just check back in a few weeks.

What if I want to report tons of locations at once?
There is a spreadsheet upload option on the form - use this option.

What if I don't want to tell Google the business it's impacting?
Lots of business owners are reluctant to report spam because they don't want their competitors knowing they were the ones to report it. The safest bet here is just to put NA in those fields.

Can I use this form to report fake reviews?
Not currently. You should send these requests to Google's social support. You can tweet to them at @googlemybiz or message them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GoogleMyBusiness/. Usually they respond in 1-5 business days.
 

Dan Foland

SEO Director at Postali
Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 25, 2018
Messages
77
This is very interesting.

The Google post mentions:
Complaints submitted through this form will be reviewed in accordance with our guidelines for representing businesses on Google Maps
I'm curious if this well be a manual review by Google employees or if it automated somehow?

I also found this interesting from the report tool page:
If you come across misleading information or fraudulent activity on Google Maps related to the name, phone number, or URL of a business, you may use this form to submit a complaint.
Then it says:
If you simply need to correct an incorrect business name, phone number, or URL, do not use this form.
I believe I get the intent of what they're saying. But, there is often nuance that would make this confusing for users.
 
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JoyHawkins

Administrator
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Jul 18, 2012
Messages
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Can you expand on the term fraudulent should be interpreted that to also include various types of spam or things outside of terms of service?

It is fine to use it to report any type of GMB violation that appears in the drop-down. So keyword stuffing isn't exactly "fraud" but it violates Google's guidelines so you can use the form to report that since there is a field for title.
 

MChuckGreen

Forum Member
Joined
Jul 22, 2014
Messages
4
Thank you Joy! I have one clarifying question. On the form page Google states:

Also, if your complaint is not related to fraudulent activity on the name, phone number, or URL of the business, we will not be able to review your complaint.
A large portion of the spam listing we come across are just straight up fake listings, rather than legit businesses who are simply gaming one of 3 elements (name, phone number, URL).

Should plainly fake listings still be reported via the form? And if so, what should be reported as the "Malicious Content" in the form drop down (eg. Title, Address, Phone Number, Website)? Just pick the item that is *most* malicious perhaps?
 

BenFisher

Local Search Expert
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
191
More than likely the website address or title will suffice. Then detail everything else out in the comment area of the form.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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Joy, do you think this will actually be reviewed by someone consistently?

Or will it eventually just be a black hole like so many other well meaning Google reporting initiatives?

What's your intuition say?
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
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It's basically the same as when you report spam on Twitter currently. It will get reviewed. The common pitfall I see with most people that are frustrated that their spam reports didn't do anything is that they aren't fully aware of the guidelines and exactly how Google acts on things and what types of supporting evidence is needed. Those are things that come with a lot of time & experience and watching the outcomes of various different strategies.
 

BenFisher

Local Search Expert
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
191
I could not agree with Joy more. The true difference between a spam hunter and spam reporter is the forensic investigation. Taking the time to document and going as far as you can to disprove that something is not real. In other words, gathering indisputable evidence. There is a reason for having a high success rate no matter the escalation channel... time, experience and patience in some cases.
 

brettmandoes

Forum Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2018
Messages
43
Joy, you've dealt with a ton of this stuff over the years. Do you think a form is adequate for catching the nuances, like new forms of abuse that people concoct? I'm thinking of things like the recently fixed "opening on future date" that people were using to shutdown competitor listings.

Would love to hear your take.
 

SwitchBack

Forum Member
Joined
Dec 15, 2018
Messages
30
Hello there!

I dropped in here to see if there was a discussion regarding the new GMB reporting form and did not see much mentioned about it.

This New Webpage Form is the new route to report community violations I guess. Just rolled out yesterday.

Can you imagine the size of that Inbox? :)

I suppose this will help out all those moderators in the advertiser community. You will be able to answer most everything with a simple copy/paste. Well Done.

I'm wondering if Twitter support will become obsolete and staff will simply redirect everyone to link to that form.

Have a great weekend.


Merged threads ~ djbaxter
 
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Bryan Bloom

Forum Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2018
Messages
20
@JoyHawkins I HAVE to share this with you. I decide to write a blog post on fake/spam GMB and map listings since we have spent SO much time for our clients advocating. BTW you have helped so much! So I was in SEMrush and decided to do some content research and look what came up!!! Love it!1

 

Tim Colling

Moderator
Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
963
I have read that along with this new reporting form, Google has announced that they will be closing the spam reporting section of their online support forums sometime in the near future.

If that is true, I would be disappointed to see it happen. The PEs with their ability to escalate the more subtle cases would be lost, then, it sounds like.

Is that really true?
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,478
@Tim Colling yep it's true. There is a lot of issues with a place where you publicly out someone. We used to get people threatening us, the initial posters etc and at some points it got really bad. As someone who is a volunteer, I'm happy to get rid of that stress.

I haven't used the forum as the main method for reporting spam myself in quite some time for this reason.
 

Tim Colling

Moderator
Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
963
My concern is that this will become another black hole with no visibility into what will be done in response to the submissions (or whether anything at all will be done).
 

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