Fixing Google maps business listings
Sara Sargent
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Real or Fake? Competing With Bots on Google My Business

Google My Business is a highly-useful application for any business owner looking to emphasize their local SEO. However, make no mistake: the application isn’t faultless. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google Maps and Google My Business house over 11 million fake local listings.

Fake listings—whether created by bots or by actual users—make it significantly more difficult for legitimate businesses like yours to appear in Google searches.

What’s caused this influx of fake listings? A better question might be, how has Google responded?

And most importantly, how can you ensure your business still appears in local searches when you’re competing with bots?

The Problem: A Lack of Physical Evidence

You can blame the Internet for the fact that many businesses don’t have physical addresses anymore. This might be the case for e-commerce affiliates, digital empires or for businesses that require frequent travel, including:

  • Contract work
  • Attorneys
  • Movers
  • Car Repair
  • Towing
  • Electricians
  • Plumbers

Because these businesses don’t have physical roots, they become easy prey for scammers. Bots and swindlers are able to take these and create fake listings through Google Maps and Google My Business.

Likewise, some business owners have knowingly created fake listings for Google My Business. Hypothetically, listing your business through GMB can generate local traffic, even if that business doesn’t have a physical location. This isn’t the case, especially given Google’s “Guidelines for Representing Your Business on Google.” However, some business owners looking to game the system have falsified their locations in an attempt to bolster their audiences.

What is Google’s Response?

There’s good news: Google is aware of the behavior of bots and ambitious marketers, and has been for a while. As of 2015, the platform had removed 70 percent of the then-existing fake listings available through its platform.

However, as time passes, Google’s inability to keep up with bots grows. Despite its renowned security elsewhere (looking at you, Gmail), Google has yet to institute a business verification process, forcing some business owners out of their appropriate listings due to fake information.

Partner this inability to tell real businesses from fake ones with a rampant tendency for keyword stuffed snippets, and what do you get?

Google faces a serious problem when it comes to the legitimacy of its local searches.

Tips and Tricks for Local SEO Appearances

You probably don’t want to lose your business to a bunch of bots and scammers. What do you do?

Google penalties and fines might intercede and help you out. However, if you want to stand out on your own, you might want to take the following steps:

  • Engage With Local Influencers – See if local influencers will be willing to spread the word about the work you do. When you can verify your location through other mediums, Google has more proof of your legitimacy. You’ll also have another opportunity to grow your local audience.
  • Cultivate a Strong Website – Integrate a map and address into your personal website so consumers can find your business, regardless of whether or not you’re listed through Google.
  • Seek Out Local Reviews – Are there consumers or other local businesses willing to post a review of your products on their platforms? Take advantage of their offers and spread the word about your content through other reputable avenues. Even if your platform is erroneously removed from GMB, consumers will be able to find information proving your business’s legitimacy.

Don’t lose out to bots on GMB. While Google is doing its best, you can utilize SEO tricks of your own to ensure that your business appears in all relevant local searches.

Image attribution: rcfotostock – stock.adobe.com

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