Widespread use of deceptive practices are costing legitimate contractors leads
June 26, 2019 - By Aaron Hockel
Quick Explanation of Google My Business Listings
A verified Google My Business listing is supposed to represent a brick and mortar location customers can visit. As a result, it is a major factor in determining Google's local search results. These results, pictured below, have a prominent position on both the desktop and mobile search engine results pages, appearing directly below the paid ads and above the traditional organic listings. For a contracting business, showing up in one of these three positions can drive a significant amount of leads.
Contractors Manipulating Google My Business Results
ABC Roofing creates a fake Google My Business listing in 10 different cities. These are addresses for other businesses, closed establishments, or locations that can't be visited by customers. Consequently, ABC Roofing takes over a top 3 spot in the local search results. This bumps XYZ Roofing in the process, despite the fact they have a legitimate physical location in the city.
A search for plumbers in Manhattan demonstrate the depth of this problem. Of the 20 plumbing businesses listed in the expanded local search results, only 2 met the basic requirements of a legitimate Google My Business listing. Plumbers who would have otherwise appeared in these results miss out on valuable website traffic and phone calls. Here are photos of the verified and listed plumbing businesses that appeared in the results:
How Big Is The Google My Business Problem?
There are an estimated 11 million fake Google My Business listings live online on any given day according to search marketing experts. While Google will not confirm this number, there are two numbers that also highlight the size of the problem. Google confirmed the removal of over 3 million fake Google My Business listings in 2018. In addition to these listings, they also disabled over 150,000 accounts responsible for uploading the fake listings.
There are also black hat local SEO companies contributing to the problem. One Hanover, PA based business claims they can create 3,800 fake Google My Business listings in a single day. The work is mostly done by remote employees based in the Philippines. The cost of a single fake listing? Just $99.
What Should Contractors Do About Their Google My Business Listings?
First and foremost, contractors need to claim and set up an accurate Google My Business listing. Once a listing is claimed, it is important for to optimize the listing. This includes verifying the listing and adding all pertinent business information, photos, reviews, and videos. Google My Business is entirely free for contractors to set up and Google offers an online tutorial to walk business owners through the process.
While this can provide a major boost to a contractor's local SEO rankings, it is not always enough to get them back into the top 3 of the rankings. In this scenario, there are additional steps contractors can take to get back into the local search results:
Driving Google reviews to increase your business listings' prominence
Build directory citations on other sites to boost your local SEO presence
Run paid ads targeting specific areas where your business needs to appear
As a certified Google partner, AltaVista works with contractors everyday to navigate the Google My Business process contractors navigate the entire Google My Business process from start to finish.