More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Back in September I was posted several times about 2 spammy listings with fake KW stuffed names that were using directory search results pages that had lots of authority. instead of linking to the attorney's web site. Gyi and others posted about it a lot as well.

A TON of us reported the spammy listings and finally got them taken down.
They are back - with a new twist! (See 2nd screen shot.)

Please see important questions this raises at the bottom of this post.

Here is the query: Los Angeles personal injury lawyer (Set location to LA for accuracy.)

SCREENSHOT FROM 9/14 With the original spammy listings at C and D.
<img src="" alt="LAinjuryAttorney8.2" width="65%" />​

So I believe we 1st noted and started reporting those listings in August. Screenshot above was from September. But then in October both of his fake listings were finally removed.

Fast forward... I've been checking that SERP at least once a week for algo changes and those listings have not been showing up. Then yesterday I discovered the following results.

Old Spam Listing Back PLUS a New One - 12/9/14

<img src="" alt="LAinjuryAttorney12.9" alt="LAinjuryAttorney12.8" width="65%" />

Here they both are on maps with the direct links below.


<a href="">Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyers</a> (Thumbtack)
<a href="">Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys</a> (Avvo)

Before "Injury Attorneys" linked to Now it links to Avvo. Plus before "Injury Attorneys" was listed with LA address. Now it's in Sherman Oaks but still ranks B just because of the bogus, spammy keyword stuffed fake name! And "Injury Lawyers" links to Thumbtack.

Anyway, just like before TOTALLY fake KW stuffed names should be penalized and should not rank.

Plus normally in a pack as competitive as LA, 2 listings with the same phone would not rank in the pack.

Additionally dupes should not rank and it's a violation to have more than one listing. This guy has already has a legit listing with his real name & location. Plus he has yet another fake name keyword stuffed listing here:
<a href="">Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney</a>

Oh dear, just hit weirdness. Do a search in classic maps for (818) 702-7000 - Listing comes up as "The Law Offices of Robert A. Brenner" with full address in San Fernando Valley. (This I believe is the only legit listing.)

WAIT!!! Click "more info" to go to the listing and INSTEAD it goes to "Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer" with hidden address in LA.

IT'S NOT EVEN A PLACE PAGE - IT'S JUST A G+ PAGE SO SHOULD NOT EVEN BE RANKING AT ALL! (No review option and "Story" instead of description.)

So there is some type of merge or borked penalty state going on here.


A) Are you guys seeing other spammy violation-filled listings come back? (Things seemed to clear up for awhile 3 months or so post-Pigeon.) Sure hope this does not signify a back slide!

B) Do you think there an algo change that surfaced this crud again?

C) How the heck is that PLAIN G+ page even ranking???

C) Now that the guidelines are stricter and linking to a directory is prohibited, will we get these taken down any quicker? (Last time it took a bunch of us reporting and several weeks before they were nuked.)

D) Do you think an attorney that has this much disregard for the (Google) law, is any good at his job?
(Gotta say he's at least doggedly persistent!) (But I do realize it's possible he didn't do this and doesn't know his SEO did it.)

E) Is this guy or his SEO just really clever or just plain dumb?

Curious minds want to know. Please weigh in below.

What do you think???
<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="This resurfaced spam raises some interesting questions">
<meta property="og:image" content="">

Great convo Linda, per your request I'm republishing some of my insights/ questions from Google+:


Great stuff +Linda Buquet . A few things: Undoubtedly, this was an algorithmic tweak that brought those listings forward. Generally speaking, Google has to find an algorithmic solution to issues like these, manual fixes do them no good. Interesting to think that they may have tweaked Pigeon recently. Are you seeing other changes in local packs/ SERPs you are tracking?

This illustrates the importance that Pigeon placed on "traditional ranking signals" (read, links...). These entries don't have a valid local address AND they're not connected to true Google My Business pages and they are still ranking. This is probably because Google needs to account for all of those businesses that don't create Google My Business accounts or pay attention to fostering the types of signals that a local optimization campaign would pay attention to. Their solution in this case (it appears), rely on site strength to determine what types of entries should be returned in local packs. Sites like thumbtack and avvo are so strong, they are able to trump other sites who are well optimized locally.

Finally - It appeared that the original listings that caused the raucous back in August were old ones that happened to catch a windfall when Pigeon was released. I think these might fall into the same category, but can't be sure. I wonder if the attorney/ law firm know that all of this is going on? Many that don't know much about SEO will just continue to pay their internet marketing company with little oversight into their methods or tactics. As long as the phone is ringing, they continue to pay those invoices and everyone moves along. Not sure I would immediately condemn the attorney/ law firm in this instance.
Hi +Robert,

Great to have you join us here and thanks for weighing in on this one.

Good points - I really agree with you on all this.

Oh and re blaming the atty, I did ask in the last Q about his SEO, because I do realize that's one option - that the atty has no idea. On the other hand I've had lots of attys come to me with similar messes they admit to creating and are super aggressive and don't care what rules they break to rank. I'd be curious to find out more about the situation here.

Additionally wanted to mention after thinking a little more and observing the behavior of that listing that is the legit listing in maps, but switches to the spammy G+ listing when you click it. (The one that in the screenshot has the Avvo link.) I think that one's a merge. So the plain G+ page ranks in search and maps, because it's partially merged with the legit G+ L listing, it's just that the spammy listing is the one that's prominent and displaying right now.

FYI all, I also reported this directly to my contacts at Google.

Thanks again for posting Robert! Just realized you aren't a member of our Local Search Pros G+ Community. You should join us there too! I always like your insights!
FYI after I reported to Google they took those listings down for awhile.

However, the Avvo listing with the fake name "Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorneys" is back in the pack. :(

Depending on how you search: Los Angeles personal injury attorney OR lawyer, singular OR plural, he's back in the C or D spot.
On the other hand I've had lots of attys come to me with similar messes they admit to creating and are super aggressive and don't care what rules they break to rank.

LOL - how sad/funny/ironic the people in the profession pay little heed to rules!
And he's O U T! Again. Hopefully for good this time!

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