More threads by JoyHawkins


Local Search Expert
LocalU Faculty
Aug 23, 2014
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I was a bit appalled when researching to write this one. Based on what I've seen in Toronto, SEO is a more spam-filled category than locksmiths.

I wanted to find out if it's just as bad in the other areas so I thought I'd ask those of you who work in SEO to check your city (search city + SEO) and see if you recognize the businesses listed or if they're all keyword-stuffed like what I found.

Dear SEOs: Please stop spamming Google Maps!
I couldn't agree with you more about the local search results being spammed. One top company for my area Cleveland Ohio, is from Indiana!
One doctor is even listed LOL because their last name is seo in the top 20 results.
Sometimes it's also hard to ascertain if it's really spam, considering many SEO companies may be using their residential address as their local spot with an unlisted Google Local service area.

It takes some practice but after doing it for awhile you start to get really good at detecting fake locations. I am thinking of making one of my future articles a list of all the steps I take to verify if a business is real or not.

Maybe I'll tackle Cleveland after I'm done in Toronto ;)
Another good one Joy! I'm going to have to give you another nickname on top of "The Machine!"
Joy the spam fighter!

But seriously, glad you are calling it on the shady players and practices that give everyone in the industry a bad reputation.
Thank you for the share and insights!

One thing I don't understand is why Google has not stopped using business name as a ranking signal for Local Pack.
Yeah, good point. I think it's because they have yet to really completely distinguish between what's a brand search and what's a informational search.

Example, let's say someone searches "Seattle Dental" - is the person looking for a dentist in Seattle or are they looking for a business named "Seattle Dental"?

Unfortunately, they do use it a lot and businesses that do keyword stuff have quite the ranking advantage. The other thing is that there is no real penalty to keyword stuffing. It's not at all like Penguin where you suffer in ranking if you do it. On the contrary, you rank really awesome and then once someone catches on, you just go back to ranking where you would have before without the stuffing. You aren't actually penalized.
Hm... so far the comments on Facebook are very interesting (

I think I'm starting to conclude the general SEO community just is really unaware of the guidelines surrounding Google My Business. Some of the listings that I got removed were intentional (it was obvious due to the volume of fake listings from 1 company), but some of it seems to just be SEOs thinking "Well if I want to rank, I need to list keywords" without realizing that there are rules around what you're supposed to do.
I hate bashing just for the sake of bashing from people that have no idea what they are talking about! I just said my piece.
Thanks for the comment Linda - much appreciated :)

Don't worry - I don't let them bother me. I think as Taylor Swift says, the haters are gonna "hate hate hate". ;) I got that song in my head.:p Keep up the good work Joy.
Joy, I really enjoyed your article, which I just read earlier today. Spamming SEOs beware - Joy is on to you! :D
Thanks for sharing Joy! My city (Portland, Oregon) doesn't look too terrible actually, though I did make a few map maker edits already for improper naming. Definitely a rabbit hole I don't have time for at the moment.

I'd LOVE to hear your process for vetting a business and deciding if it's real or fake. Definitely looking forward to that one!
My city has a one-box for city + seo...
Google: Stop giving SEOs reasons to hate you :p

It's a legit company, and they don't look to be doing anything spammy. It's almost as annoying as spammers though! Great article. Thanks for helping to clean it up!
Hi Joy, I've noticed that two listings in the 3-pack for "plumbers sugar land tx" (a suburb of Houston) are intermediaries. Click the website button for the first Plumbers Inc and it takes you to Doug Turner Plumbing and click the button for the second Plumbers Inc and it takes you to Arrow Plumbing. These are separate and independent plumbing companies. Somehow Plumbers Inc has managed to fool Google into giving it the pack space, and it's apparently handing off the benefit of that valuable space to other companies. Have you seen this Plumbers Inc listing in other venues? Any idea how Plumbers Inc gets into the pack when website links go to other companies? Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.33.01 AM.png

Screen Shot 2016-04-12 at 11.33.01 AM.png
Hey Paul,

Since these listings are set up as SABs, I'm guessing they were verified at some point but they are not any more. I think this probably happened via GMB and since the listings are now unverified, I would also guess the entire account got suspended and the listings got unverified but not changed back to the actual business names.

Looks like an insanely large spam network - there are listings everywhere all around the country with that same phone #. I just reported it. Thanks for bringing it up!
I love this! I think you need a super hero costume Joy, a new Avengers character

Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
Yes!!!! Cody that would be amazing. Yep...I am a nerd.

Sent from my XT1563 using Tapatalk

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