Local SEO is very important, since around half of all searches on Google have local intent. More than 70% of potential customers look up businesses before they visit, and about three quarters of local searches result in contacting one of them. This means your business must have good local SEO to be found by your target customers. Unfortunately, the ease by which companies can game local SEO for non-local premises means local SEO spam can cost legitimate, local businesses potential customers.
Let’s look at how you can fight back against local SEO spam.
Before you report a case of location SEO spam, perform your due diligence, just in case it is their legitimate business name. If the business website uses a different business name, then you know it is a case of location spam. This was previously done through Google Map Maker, but that was killed in March, 2017. It has now been integrated with Google Maps.
Crowdsourced contributions to maps are being transitioned to the Local Guides program. This is intended to make it much harder for people to enter updates to Google Maps, something that allowed for a lot of local SEO spam entries. However, this change will not remove existing cases of local SEO spam.
You can report the spam by logging into Google and going to Google Maps. Search for the address or click on the pin on the map. On the bottom right, select the “Send Feedback” option. Select “Report a Data Problem”, enter the information about the spam like “it isn’t actually located there, has a different business name” and then submit. When you report spammers, start with the stronger ranking listings first to reduce the impact of the worst offenders.
You should also suggest edits to force businesses that have added keywords to their business names to remove them and flag those using P.O. boxes instead of actual addresses, since this is a violation of Google’s rules.
Address Review Spam
Reviews have a significant impact on your local SEO, since potential customers will avoid companies with a bad rating. Fake five star reviews have been a long term problem. You can report these reviews to Google by flagging them for review. When a competitor has given you multiple bad reviews with written details, you can sue them for defamation and demand they remove the false bad reviews and stop posting them altogether.
Implementing Local SEO in Business Names
There are companies that have actually renamed themselves so that they rank well for local SEO using their company name. For example, one law firm actually renamed itself to Denver Trial Lawyers. You don’t have to go this far to improve your local SEO. Renaming your business to “Current Name of ABC City” would work. If you are already incorporated as “Business Name of X County”, use that legal business name on business directories and your website. When you have a law office, instead of stating “Law Office of A, B and C”, consider renaming it to “Law Office of A, B, and C, Personal Injury Lawyers”.
Update business information when you have multiple locations to include location information. If you own several day care centres, instead of having four different entries that compete with each other for local SEO, each one should have its business directory entries across all sites updated to “Childcare Centre – City Name Location”. This practice also prevents your business being wrongly penalised for seemingly listing multiple addresses for a single location, when you actually have more than one location.
If you want to successfully fight back against Local SEO spam, first, report the worst offenders to Google as spam, and suggest edits to push those abusing local SEO terms to correct them. Request a review of fake reviews on their site as well as your own. Include local search terms in your business name, and craft business NAP (name, address and phone number) entries to clearly identify each location as a unique. Take care with your own business’ name and title to avoid being penalised as spam.
Image courtesy of: searchengineland.com