Protect your IT business from practices that unfairly rank your competitors.
I know how difficult it can be to rank on Google as an IT Business, especially when it comes to local rankings which are highly competitive. And one of the main reasons why it’s so difficult is that other businesses employ spam tactics to game the ranking signals that Google uses to determine if a search result is relevant to a query.
This makes it harder for honest businesses like yours that are not constantly using spam techniques to score well.
A core belief of mine and one of the reasons I started this business, is that users deserve the best experience possible on the web and that helping them find relevant local businesses like yours when they’re searching for “IT services” makes the web a better place.
Let’s explore all the ways you can fight back against these spam tactics and gain the place that is rightfully yours.
As a reminder you can always refer back to our “Ultimate Google Guide for MSPs” to get a refresher on what are the best and most effective ways to optimize your Google My Business listing that won’t put you in hot waters with Google.
What Factors Influence Your Ranking in Local Search Results?
Let’s look at which factors Google uses to decide who should rank in local search results.
In this graph below, you can see the ranking signals Google uses to display local search results.
As you can see, Google My Business is ranked as the most important ranking factor which means a lot of your focus needs to go into making sure your GMB is optimized for Local SEO.
It’s also the reason why you’ll find a lot of businesses manipulating their Google My Business listing with spam tactics that are against Google’s guidelines to give themselves a better chance at ranking.
You need to be aware of these spam tactics and signal them to Google so that they end up playing by the rules and not unfairly overshadow your own listing.
Spam Tactics You Need To Be Aware Of
City Name Stuffing
This tactic especially affects your local rankings because some businesses will stuff the “Business Name section” in their Google My Business with the “City Name” that they are targeting even though the city name isn’t included in their actual business name.
This way, whenever someone searches for, let’s say “IT consulting in New York”, Google search results will be more likely to display a listing that contains both the search keyword and the location keyword, like in the example below.
Disclaimer: Things change fast on the internet, this listing might have been corrected since this article was first published. This is a screenshot that serves as an illustration to the topic.
You can see that the actual Business Name here is “Manhattan TechSupport” however they stuff the city name “New York” twice by covering two possible ways a user would search for “IT services” in New York.
Which as you can see below gets them to rank at the first place of local map pack in search results.
Business Names- Keyword Stuffing
Another widely spread spam tactic is the use of search keywords in the “Business Name” which is against “Google guidelines for representing your business on Google”.
“Your name should reflect your business’s real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers. Accurately representing your business name helps customers find your business online.”
Some businesses go as far as using a completely different “Business name” on their listing than the actual name displayed on their website.
You will even find that some businesses can have multiple listings for the same company.
Using the same example as above, you can see that directly below Manhattan IT support is another listing with their real company name and that links back to the same website. This means that they are trusting 2 places on the local map pack when we know that the first 3 listings are the ones that get the most clicks.
This is a very effective spamming tactic that gives an unfair advantage to this company and that most likely gets them the bulk of local leads.
Yup, some companies will go as far as putting fake addresses into their Google My Business listing to rank higher in local search! This is totally against Google’s guidelines.
See below for reference Google’s guidelines:
“Use a precise, accurate address and/or service area to describe your business location. P.O. boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.”
Using the same example as previously, let’s have a look at which addresses this business is using on their Google My Business listings.
As you can see, they’re using 2 different addresses to bypass Google’s radar and those addresses are not even the ones listed on their website. These guys don’t even have an office in New York, they’re located in Pennsylvania and Dallas, Texas and they still show up at the top of local search results in New York.
Some companies use employees’ home addresses or claim virtual offices to place additional listings in Google search results.
How to Fight Spam Tactics
There are many ways spammers leverage Google ranking factors to get their listings to rank higher in search results but there are also many ways you can fight back against those unfair competitive tactics and get your business a better chance at ranking.
Suggest An Edit Feature
We will show you how to use the “Suggest an Edit” feature to curb spam listings. This feature gives you the ability to tackle spamming tactics like:
- City Name Stuffing
- Keyword Stuffing
- Duplicate Listings
- Fake Addresses and Fake Listings or Virtual Offices
First, you will need to click on the name that comes up in the Google My Business listing. You will see a dialogue box open and at the bottom, you will see the option to “Suggest an edit”.
Once you’ve clicked it, you will have two options:
- Change name or other details
- Close or remove
If you select the first option, a form will be displayed giving you the option to correct City Name Stuffing by removing the city name and leaving the original name. This can also be done to rectify keyword stuffing.
For duplicated listings and fake addresses, you will select the second option, which was to “Close or remove”.
You will be brought to a dialogue box where you can let Google know whether the Business “Doesn’t exist here” as in doesn’t exist in the location that it has listed. You can also select whether the business is a “Duplicate of another place”.
Whichever you select, a dialogue box will open to confirm your choice. In the “Doesn’t exist here” option, you will have the choice to add photos if you have useful information about the real business location such as photos of signs, or notices.
In the “Duplicate of another place” option Google Maps will inquire whether you know the right location and provide you with a list of possible locations. If you see the correct address listed, all you’ll have to do is to select that address. Otherwise, select “None of the above” then click “Submit”.
As a caveat, adding photos by this method will make it publicly known that the pictures were sent from your google account. Therefore, the other spam-fighting option may be best for you if you wish to remain anonymous.
I personally have no challenge with removing my superhero mask while getting the job done! 🦸🏾♀️
The redressal form will send the complaint directly to Google’s Team who will review the complaint and take measures as they see fit. Seeing as the business you’re lodging a complaint against isn’t yours, they will not get back in touch with you.
You will just have to trust the process here. However, this option will protect your anonymity and prevent others from knowing who submitted the complaint and pictorial evidence.
You can access the Business Redressal Complaint Form here.
Enter your information into the form. At the section where it requests that you identify the content that may lead to fraudulent activity, you have 4 types of issues that you can report:
- Title (Meaning the Business Name)
- Phone Number
Then, enter the URL in the required section. There will be another section where you can upload your files. If you upload them here, they will not lead back to you.
You obviously need to make sure that you’re reporting actual spam and not engaging yourself in unscrupulous tactics to beat your competition.
Google will ask you to detail your reasons for signaling this as a fraudulent activity.
You now know what tactics spammers use to get the upper hand in local rankings and how you can fight back to protect your own listing and ensure you get the visibility your business deserves. 💁🏾
Thank you for reading this article and I hope you found value in it.
Don’t hesitate to drop me a line, ask any further question or share your experience firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear from you!
Google My Business for MSPs.
Get access to our Google My Business experts and dominate your local IT market.
At CX Atelier, we get IT companies at the top of Google search results in just a few weeks. Not with spam tactics but by implementing best Google My Business practices.