More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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As most of you know Regus and virtual offices are not allowed. The exception being Regus if that's really your full-time office and you sit at your desk all day. But many attorneys use a Regus office or other executive suite, just as a way to rank in other cities or to try to make it appear they have offices all over, when in reality they work at their one primary office all day.

I've heard attorneys as well as consultants say "Ya it's only a problem if you get caught. But what's Google doing to do, show up at every office to see if you really work there or have staff there?"
If you have clients like this read on.

NO! Google is not going to do walk in checks of every office.
But THIS is how it often goes down.

Follow along and watch as this attorney gets his secondary offices shut down by Google mappers.

Removing Spam Business Listing For XYZ Law Group in Olympia
(Google Map Maker Forum thread)

I changed the name because my intention is not to out the atty. He's already being investigated. My focus is simply to share the process by which many of these disallowed locations get discovered and closed down.

See all the funny looking suite #s like "Ste. C-8 #149" on his contact us page? Those are all UPS stores.
It's easy to spot when you look for patterns. FYI the Google spam team as well as maps vigilantes are pretty good at spotting spam patterns too.

So share this post if you have clients with bogus secondary offices. Not just attorneys, but service area businesses try to get away with this as well. Oh and have them read the new guidelines as well if they have not yet. Things are spelled out a little more clearly now.

All it takes is one competitor who really IS in that city - a business owner who has paid to have a REAL office there - do a little research, find out you are not legit and turn you into the Map Maker guys, or simply use report a problem right on the listing.

So that's how it often goes down...

Lesson learned! Play by the rules!
Market with integrity and everyone wins!
<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="Think you won't get caught? Think again! This is a real life case that shows how it often goes down.">
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All it would take is one MapMaker RER or TC to start looking for these. They are seriously everywhere and it would be extremely easy to get them taken down.
What really irks me here is not only the issue of breaking Google rules, it's the ethics and morals.

Think about if you were a business owner REALLY IN that city. You pay for real rent there (not cheapo executive suite rates). You pay taxes there. You support that community. You hire staff from that community. That's YOUR city!

Then some dishonest business from 3 cities over, horns in on your territory and knocks you out of the pack, when they aren't even really there!
Mike Stewart and I are having a VERY heated debate about this at the Local Search Pros Community. He thinks Google is way overstepping and controlling where people should be allowed to do business.

Mike said:

Lets have a committee vote and decide where you can do busienss. An ethics board too. How about we elect Google to the committee, anyone violating will be arrested. Or how about we install walls between cities and charge tariff for each out of area business to enter the city... Or again, we can let Google and permits decide? 

I don't think people from South Dallas be allowed to fix AC systems in Plano Tx. Just like Taxi cabs. We have a serious problem here. Yeah, I know I may sound like an ass but for over 15 years I have sold ads and marketing to SMBs and this new way of creating barriers is frightening. Google is becoming evil. Decisions on where people can work and service others should be left up to free markets. This kind of policy resembles

I replied:

I get where you are coming from +Mike Stewart BUT the issue is not where you can work! Or where you can have an office either.

The issue is that free G+L page you use to promote your business is owned by Google and they make the rules. If you aren't really located in that city you can't have a G+ L page that tells the public that you are.

You can have a Regus office in another city if you want to. No one prohibits that. You can service other cities. You just can't have a G+ L page unless your situation complies with Google's rules.

What do YOU think?
Google doesn't owe a business anything. As you mentioned it's their product and their rules.

Also agree that for a law firm it's about ethics, a scam is a scam.
Google doesn't owe a business anything. As you mentioned it's their product and their rules.

Also agree that for a law firm it's about ethics, a scam is a scam.

1st thing I do in a competitive market is spend an afternoon reporting violations. It can clear up the log-jam quite nicely and it isn't my problem they're not following the rules.
I find this all a bit frustrating. I work with a number of small businesses that work from home and do NOT want their home addresses listed as their business address on Google. If they can't use a P.O. Box or a UPS address than what else can they use if they want to keep their NAP consistent across the web.

I have one client who works from her home and sends out repair technicians from their own homes - no office space. 90% of her business is 2 towns over because that is where she used to live and that is where she does her personal networking. However, she can't have a Google+Local page anywhere near where most of her business and potential clients are located.

I get the spam issues with attorneys. Almost makes me miss the days when it was uncouth for an attorney to advertise :)

Bottomline is follow Google's rules or she will burn you eventually :)

Theresa :cool:
That is an interesting tactic, Heckler. If you don't me asking, on average how many violations would you say you find?
That is an interesting tactic, Heckler. If you don't me asking, on average how many violations would you say you find?

It really depends on the market and segment (Locksmith? violations as far as the eye can see), but I would say at a minimum I usually find 3-4 businesses with listings in some kind of violation that are competing for terms my client has stated interest in.
This plumber with a single location has done a great job of keeping multiple locations despite notifications to Google that they are bogus locations. Whoever created their website really knows what they're doing and seems to have been one step ahead of Google for years.

Scroll to the bottom of this page and tell me newingtonctplumber DOT com/coverage.php how can this continue to work so well for so long :confused:
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I don't have clients with virtual offices but I honestly don't see the problem. Just because you're outside of the city doesn't mean you don't service the city. Heck, before Pigeon (and currently quite common still) you couldn't even rank inside the city if you were 1 foot outside the city limit of where the city postal address cuts off. That's a little silly to me.

If you can serve the city, I don't see why you shouldn't be able to market in that city.

I also think it's a pretty outrageous statement to say someone using a virtual office is unethical.

I will say that I do currently benefit from VO's being knocked out as it keeps the competition way down. So, I wouldn't be upset if Google kept that policy.

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