Google Maps listing are under attack by spammers! And right now, they’re winning. Their wins are likely only temporary and they’re focusing mainly on one specific niche: car accident attorneys. Both Search Engine Land and Joe Youngblood detail this flaw in Maps listings. Let’s read what they have to say!
The Majority of Listings are Fraudulent
Search Engine Land goes as far to say as the majority of accident listings for attorneys are fake. And it’s getting worse. Joy Hawkins, the author of the article, noted that these fake listings don’t have websites, reviews, or backlinks. So she decided to reach out to a few of them to confirm their illegitimacy.
Joy writes, “When you call the phone numbers on the listings, they take you to lead generating companies that ask if you need a personal injury lawyer. If asked, they will not identify what company they work for.”
There you have it. A listing for “Joe Smith, Auto Accident Attorney” is likely to be completely fake when the listing has no website, reviews, or backlinks. Contacting this “Joe Smith” may mean contacting a lead generating company instead. Here’s how these lead generating companies make money: They find someone who needs an attorney and then the company connects them with an actual attorney. The lead generating company is essentially a middle man and they receive a commission when they give new leads to attorneys.
Joy continues, “Several attorneys I work with have told me they are being inundated with requests from lead providers who are selling these leads for hundreds of dollars each.” This just goes to show that this is happening. Will Google put a stop to this? They’ll find a way, I’m sure. This trickery has a negative effect on ethical attorneys as well.
An attorney in Houston, Texas, noticed that his website and listing was losing Local search rank because of these scam listings. Stewart Guss decided to “have some of his employees call the phone numbers and pretend to be in need of a car accident attorney so he could find out which lead providers were selling the leads.” Stewart then mentions that if you want to use lead sources, make sure you vet them to ask how they get their leads.
How are these spammers so successful? Let’s see what Joe Youngblood has to say.
Keywords and Google’s Ranking Algorithm
They key to ranking high in Local search results is using the right keyword. For example, searching for “auto accident attorney in Houston” will return search results with those keywords or similar. Joe Youngblood wanted to determine exactly how well using target keywords matters in Local search results.
Joe writes, “The title of a business has an enormous and often times unfair impact on the rankings for a location on a specific keyword. This is not new information in the Local SEO space and has lead to bouts of spam throughout the years.”
He goes on to use a tool called “Local Falcon”. Local Falcon is essentially a way to check the ranking of a business of listing in Google Maps. It was actually created specifically for Google Maps! Using Local Falcon, Joe found that the “On average spam in the name of a business helped that location improve by at least 9.53 ranking positions.” That’s a massive jump! It’s clear to see, then, why these spammers are using keywords as their strategy to rank higher in Google Maps listings.
Joe continues, “57.14% of businesses lost 100% of their local rankings when spam keywords were removed from their business names.” So over half of these listings will basically lose all of their rankings when the spam is removed. Now, Google just needs to find a way to make this happen without hurting legitimate businesses. I’m sure the answer will somehow involve proving the legitimacy of a business before their listing gets on Google Maps in the future. Only time will tell. Stick around to see if and when Google decides to fight back against these spammers!
Featured photo by Valtercirillo on Pixabay