Locksmith and the Towing Business.... verification and audits.


SwitchBack

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Hello Group!
My first forum post. Wish me luck!

i have a towing business and as everyone should know, we also provide emergency lockout service for motor clubs and insurance companies...
We unlock car doors.

so I'm in that dreaded industry that seems to be the example for all web punishment.

my question is -
Should I just forget about trying to get qualified in that GMB category?
We are in towing category
Then the second we chose locksmith.
It seems everytime I edit anything on GMB profile, we go through a lengthy audit and listing gets suspended.

a towing company is an affordable way to get your car unlocked. It's usually like $40. Customers tell me the regular locksmith wanted $140 to come out at 8pm. A tow truck is always out running around... and every tow truck around the globe carries a lockout kit behind his seat.


I did notice there is now a drop-down menu when you click "more places". In that drop down menu, there is a category for lockout service. but that term can't be found in a regular category search.

I understand why the system has come down on locksmith category because there was so many scams happening... We heard stories of $19.95 ad turning into a $159 call... These customers finally called a tow truck to unlock the door.

I am posting this because I feel that there needs to be some common sense thrown at the filters and verification. I don't think the GMB team really sees that a towing service has tools and experience in unlocking car doors.

A verified Towing business should qualify for simple auto lockout service, tire repair, battery service. It's what we do. Everyday.

So... back to my question.

Do you feel I should just stop even trying to advertise for an affordable lockout service?

Is there a path up the GMB ladder that I could send a nice email to explain the simple logic in:Towing > automotive lockout service?

I appreciate your time and comments.
This is a great forum to explore.
 

Phil Rozek

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@SwitchBack, you might want to shift some effort to local-organic rankings, with a little less emphasis on Maps visibility. As you said, GMB is pretty polluted in the two categories your business inhabits.

Not that you should ignore GMB, of course. What specific changes led to your suspension(s)? Google won't yank your listing just because the locksmith and towing categories are spam-pools. I wonder what kind of address you're using, how many GMB pages you have (and the addresses those other pages use), and whether you have other/related businesses at your address(es).
 

JoshuaMackens

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My recommendation would be to choose whichever service is the lifeblood of your business as the main category and not worry about the difficulty of getting verified.

a) unless you live in a very small town, you will probably only rank well for one or the other. You're competing against companies that are putting all their Google eggs into one basket or the other. Splitting your basket probably isn't going to work and will leave you ranking lower for both than higher for just one.

b) verification for locksmiths can be done, it's just tougher. Don't let that deter you from choosing "locksmith" if that's what you want to rank the best for.
 

SwitchBack

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Hi Joshua....

After some analysis, I'm thinking that using the 2 business categories, towing and locksmith in my GMB has raised a few flags.
It's actually a shame. I could never feel right about charging the average price of $120 to unlock a car door. As posted in the new Google drop-down menu, found when you hit the more places section on map pack.
(see screenshot)

I've came to this double category conclusion because every lockout listing is something with "lock" in the name and obviously my name is towing related so I'm the odd duck and probably flagged as spammy... but I know we do this service for under $50... and we are always out running around.
So it's a shame for the average consumer.

I suppose we could investigate a separate office and business name registration for lockouts.

Do you feel multiple categories in single listing is highly likely why the suspension happened?
It is a little frustrating that Google doesn't just send a screenshot of what bothers them. I just edit and reply and they send it back. It seems counter productive, but I understand why...

I appreciate your response and welcome all discussions. Thank you.
 

Colan Nielsen

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Hey @SwitchBack welcome to the Local Search Forum.

@SwitchBack, y
What specific changes led to your suspension(s)? Google won't yank your listing just because the locksmith and towing categories are spam-pools. I wonder what kind of address you're using, how many GMB pages you have (and the addresses those other pages use), and whether you have other/related businesses at your address(es).
I think @Phil Rozek questions are important ones and would make a good starting point to diagnose what has happened in the past and what to do moving forward.
 

SwitchBack

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@Phil Rozek
@Colan Nielsen

Thank you for your quick response.

I will admit, I was a little bit hesitant in throwing out my GMB listing. After all, no one really chooses to be an example and shine a big spotlight on yourself on "what not to do" in a global forum...

I did make a screenshot of what I "think" is the problem....

This suspension happened in last week or two when I upgraded my listing to the new Google web page/ menu system.
It's worth noting that I have left the listing with the old service miles radius system instead of updating to zip code method... I'm not sure if that is enough.

Please forgive it's imperfections... The history of my business? For 6+ years, I had a nice simple Weebly site. That worked great. But with every panda, penguin update, I kept getting dinged because crawlbot didn't like something on Weebly. So about Thanksgiving, I made a decision with some courage... I decided I'd move domain and jump onto WordPress. It's not been easy to do by myself, but I learned everything I need to know and learn more everyday.
It's not a perfect website, but it's mine. I built it.
I have learned so much about SEO. I figure that long term? A person should know this stuff. It's changing all the time.
I'm not ranked #1, but I'm on first page and bounce from #3-#6... and I can't figure that out yet... It changes like stock market.

Anyway... back to GMB....
I just felt that unlocking cars is part of what we do. I'd love the groups advice and suggestions. Perhaps you can find what GMB support is upset about?

Here is screenshot.
I will throw my GMB link in separate message.

img_20181217_192726-jpg.3498
 

JoyHawkins

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Hey @SwitchBack I'd suggest posting a thread on the GMB forum to get the listing reinstated but I would make sure you have some photos of your location that show your signs etc that prove you operate there. Another thing is that your reviews appear to be associated with a known spam network. Do you have an SEO company that's assisting you with reviews (like posting reviews for you on Google that you got elsewhere)?
 
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Hey @SwitchBack I'd suggest posting a thread on the GMB forum to get the listing reinstated but I would make sure you have some photos of your location that show your signs etc that prove you operate there. Another thing is that your reviews appear to be associated with a known spam network. Do you have an SEO company that's assisting you with reviews (like posting reviews for you on Google that you got elsewhere)?
Hi Joy. If you don't mind me asking, how could you tell about the spam network? If this is a proprietary strategy or privacy issue, I totally understand if you can't respond to my question.
 

SwitchBack

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@JoyHawkins


Hello.

I had an seo company that was supposed to promise top position on Google. but all I received was a $125 month bill.
I discontinued the SEO service.

*All it takes is trusting the wrong SEO guy*

I hope you can understand why I decided to learn more about SEO. The average consumer doesn't know this stuff.
and now I have a little distrust with hiring any internet professional.

As far as reviews? I don't care if you remove them. and btw.... this is exactly why it's probably not wise to throw your business out in front of a public seo support spotlight!!

Thank you and i appreciate your comments
 

JoyHawkins

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Hi Joy. If you don't mind me asking, how could you tell about the spam network? If this is a proprietary strategy or privacy issue, I totally understand if you can't respond to my question.
Hey Casey - unfortunately I can't share that publicly.

As far as reviews? I don't care if you remove them. and btw.... this is exactly why it's probably not wise to throw your business out in front of a public seo support spotlight!!
I don't have the ability to remove reviews but it's very possible that Google will remove them at some point in the future which is why I brought it up. I completely agree that most businesses don't realize services like this are against Google's guidelines which is why they're quite popular. It's also a common solution people go to when they're attacked with fake negative reviews (which it looks like you are also dealing with). I just wanted to suggest you discontinue the service. The best way to handle reviews on an ongoing basis is to use a platform like GradeUs or GatherUp that allows you to send review requests to all your customers on a regular basis.
 

SwitchBack

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Thank you @JoyHawkins .

Yes, We had a parking incident regarding an emergency vehicle, we were asked to enforce an area that needs to stay open for restaurant parking... well yes, it happened and who knew that guy was so connected on social media? anyway that went viral across Twitter before the upper management could get the employee to remove the tweet...and it spread across a Twitter emt network and the twitter fans responded.
I tried flagging the hate reviews as they were not a "personal interaction" with our business and could be considered an emotional response to a fake news story. (The vehicle was parked, the employees had walked up the road) so I flagged reviews and emailed support to try and get some relief from the damage. After all, they were responding to a fake/twisted tweet that wasn't accurate of events..
Nothing ever happened from GMB support.

So someone suggested I hire someone to start a "SEO damage control".
Well I'm a small business. The first person I approached doesn't accept clients unless they are fortune 500 types... and even if he would take my SEO? He was talking some crazy numbers like $5000 a month.
** No thanks**
Well that was disappointing....
Search for SEO continued. Someone suggested I try Upwork and I found a budget I could afford. The damage control was underway. I didn't get the amazing results as promised, but the first guy was so laa-dee-da about his niche, that I'd of probably signed on to a seo shoe salesman.

if the reviews from upwork are an issue, please let me know how to resolve that... although I find that a bit ironic, they would not help me out on a viral attack, but now they are concerned. ha ha.

This forum has good vibes.
Thanks everyone for comments.
 

SwitchBack

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I wish I did.
I suppose that somewhere / someone probably holds a cache of Twitter but at that time I just crawled in a corner and licked my wounds....

FYI. A towing business is always running this ethical balance between right/wrong and good Samaritan work vs. towing the car from the no parking area.
Since that incident, I've tried to stay a little more on the good Samaritan path, but we are asked to tow unattended vehicles... everytime I get that request, I ponder on if the vehicle owner is well connected on social media...
they always say we are rude and mean. Well, we are nice but there is a towing bill to be paid and then they scream like the viral people from our last election....
so... I did an informal study. I searched the map for all known established tow businesses in my area... It appears the average review rating for a towing business sits at about 3.5 - 4.0.
a towing company with a perfect 5.0 and a ton of reviews? That probably should be questioned.
a Towing Business that's established has an up/down karma field. A love/hate relationship with it's customers. They love you when you're needed. They despise you when McDonald's asked to tow away the car.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Hi Joshua....

After some analysis, I'm thinking that using the 2 business categories, towing and locksmith in my GMB has raised a few flags.
It's actually a shame. I could never feel right about charging the average price of $120 to unlock a car door. As posted in the new Google drop-down menu, found when you hit the more places section on map pack.
(see screenshot)

I've came to this double category conclusion because every lockout listing is something with "lock" in the name and obviously my name is towing related so I'm the odd duck and probably flagged as spammy... but I know we do this service for under $50... and we are always out running around.
So it's a shame for the average consumer.

I suppose we could investigate a separate office and business name registration for lockouts.

Do you feel multiple categories in single listing is highly likely why the suspension happened?
It is a little frustrating that Google doesn't just send a screenshot of what bothers them. I just edit and reply and they send it back. It seems counter productive, but I understand why...

I appreciate your response and welcome all discussions. Thank you.
Looking back, I realized I read your post too quickly and you were looking for advice on how to get unsuspended, not on your SEO strategy. Sorry about that!

I'm not sure why your listing was suspended. I was more just giving SEO strategy advice for once you get unsuspended :)

Also, to elaborate, I would keep both categories in there if possible. But I would focus on one service or the other for your main GMB category and your website optimization. Feel free to add the side of your business you don't choose to focus on as a secondary GMB category and as a service page. But don't try to rank for both, splitting your ranking.

Does that make sense?
 

SwitchBack

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@JoshuaMackens

Hello!

Yes that makes sense.
I have thrown keywords out to directories and citations using both. I can see how a fragmented ranking can happen and I didn't consider that at the time.
There is just so much to learn.
Example: I'm having to babysit 2 domains now.
the http address which was 6yrs Weebly
the new https address which is Wordpress host
I never knew those would be considered separate.
http does now redirect, but obviously it's important enough I had to authenticate the https.

There is so much to learn.
I do find it interesting and fun.
Do I score 100% ? Nope.
I'd love to find a coach and pinch hitter when I need advice or assistance... but first things first.
I have to resolve the GMB issue.

I appreciate you Joshua.
 

SwitchBack

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@JoshuaMackens
@JoyHawkins
@Colan Nielsen

Hello to you all.

First, thank you for your comments and helpful advice. I like this forum. It's been great to look through the information.

I don't know if you offer referrals, but I do need to hire someone to analyze the GMB page, polish up my web appearance and figure out what needs editing and a touch of color to make it shine.

BTW-
After I had sent photos to support and uploaded photos of exterior and signs to GMB site; I had a very pleasant conversation with the Google support representative and I told her I appreciated her job and that she was just following policy, but it's frustrating that she cannot clarify what needs correction...
I believe she gave me an Easter egg.
a "clue" in her followup email, as it speaks of "identity".I Ican't solve the riddle. I'm hoping you might find something I missed.
(see screenshot)

it is a soft suspension. Joy, you mentioned in a different thread that you have a lock guy that has ran and ranked for a long long time on soft suspension... I would love to clear this all up but it sounds like I'll just float in limbo until I resubmit a new edit to local-support, right?

I think it's time I consider a professional to polish up the GMB profile and keep Google happy with my placement. I don't know if its allowed and I am not wealthy right now, but I welcome any referrals.

Any advice or referrals would be welcome.

Thanks again.
 

JoyHawkins

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@SwitchBack - I would add the photos you're referring to publicly onto the listing as a user so they're visibly available. It will also help if your business license is readily available and lists the same address. I found one in Utah but it has a different address: Entity Details: ABC TOWING - Utah Business Search - Utah.gov

For the reviews - I found the tweet and would like to escalate it to Google to see if I can get them to remove the ones associated with the date the tweet was made. Please confirm you want me to bring that up with Google? It's very likely they will also remove the Upwork reviews. If you want me to go ahead with that, post a thread on the official GMB forum and copy a link to the thread here and I'll escalate it for you.
 

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