Gordon.Ligon

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Greetings LSF!

My company and I are taking a stab at spam fighting. We are a franchise based business operating in several different U.S. cities. Our industry (Pest Control/Animal Control) should primarily be hiding the address (SABs) unless they have a physical location/office. We are trying to knock out as much low hanging fruit as possible before potentially referring more stubborn listings out to better spam fighters. We have two primary types of listings we would like to combat.
  1. Spammy Leadgen listings
  2. Local competitors bending or breaking the rules, usually through
    1. Having a map pin at a residential location
    2. Operating out of a highly suspect/non-existent office space or virtual office
I have a had some V.A.s from the Philippines working for the last couple of weeks on data collection, grabbing the following details on each listing in our local markets and organizing them in Google Sheets
  1. NAP
  2. Website
  3. CID Link
  4. Building Type (If address is listed) might be office, residential, retail, etc
  5. Screenshot of Streetview (hosted on imgur and linked in sheet)
  6. Screenshot of Secretary of State Entity search results (hosted on imgur and linked in sheet)
  7. Screenshot of County Assumed Name Search - if available, not every county has a searchable database online (hosted on imgur and linked in sheet)
  8. Any notes pertaining to the listing and if/why we think it needs to be taken down
My plan is to have my VAs submit this data, first manually through Google Maps edits, and then in bulk through the Redressal form with spreadsheets attached. We have separated the listings on each sheet into 4 categories
  1. Legitimate Listings (these will likely be removed before submission)
  2. Name infraction
  3. Address infraction
  4. Website infraction
I'd really like to nail down the best way to submit this data, so I have some questions:
  1. Google Maps edits:
    • Should my VAs use a VPN to get an American i.p. address?
      • I'd hate for these to get overlooked because of a foreign I.P. address
    • Should we use 1 or many google accounts for suggesting edits? There are quite a few listings in a lot of different markets.
    • Should the google account be a corporate account or a standard gmail account?
  2. Redressal Form
    • Should we use a VPN for submitting these as well?
    • 1 Redressal form per market?
    • 1 Redressal form per type of infraction and market?
      • Ex: Cincinnati (Name infraction) + Cincinnati (Address infraction) + etc.
    • What should we be putting under the following entry fields
      • Full Name (I'm assuming my own since it is pretty clearly stated)
      • Contact Email
        • should I use a personal or corporate email here?
      • Name of the entity or organization that is getting impacted
        • I've seen it stated on this forum that this should actually be the name of (one of) the fraudulent listing(s)
    • What is the public URL for the location
      • 98% sure this is the CID
      • If that's the case, do i just submit the 1st one on my list?
    • Files
      • Is it enough to give a Google Sheet link? or do we need to hand over a .csv or .xcel?
    • How do we follow up on the progress? In the past, I've had to manually check my the CID to see if something got removed or not over time. Is there a way for me to check the status without API access?
I really appreciate any insight here. I have a truckload of data and I'd like to make sure that it as clean, accessible, and actionable as possible for the Spam Team at Google. I've heard Ben remind us that there are humans on the other side of the redressal form, so I'd like to make it easy for them and not waste their time.

Thank you LSF!
 

zach.todd

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Hey Gordon, sounds like a well organized spam fighting machine. My own 2c to offer here is that verified/claimed SABs that are showing a residential address seem to be pretty tough to take down. My own research (specifically for plumbers & related categories) found that about 50% of listings showing an address turned out to be residential, and yet they remain in operation. As listings accrue reviews (fake or not!) they also become harder to remove.

I do see virtual offices in use occasionally with listings that should be a SAB, although legal listings are where you're really going to see the bulk of that.

The other kinds of address abuse include private mailboxes (i.e. UPS/Fedex), and bad or ambiguous addresses (i.e. a valid street name, but no number). SmartyStreets has a free tool you can use to check addresses one at a time.

I'll defer to someone like @BenFisher on your submission questions. The VPN question is interesting, but I don't know if anyone has shown whether the location of the submitter is a factor here.
 

JoyHawkins

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For residential locations that are showing a pin, I would only bother reporting them if they're unverified. If they're verified, Google does nothing about it (frustrating, I know).

I would generally only use Suggest an Edit for unverified listings as well or very obvious lead generation listings. For everything else, use the Redressal Form.

I only submit listings together in the Redressal Form if they're related (ie: one business setting up multiple listings). Otherwise, I submit one report per listing.

As far as a VPN I'm not sure as I've never outsourced this type of work.

Definitely don't use a company email if you are doing map edits. If your account ends up getting labeled as spam, it will cause all your GMB listings to get suspended. Trust me, Google gets this wrong a lot.
 

Gordon.Ligon

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For residential locations that are showing a pin, I would only bother reporting them if they're unverified. If they're verified, Google does nothing about it (frustrating, I know).

I would generally only use Suggest an Edit for unverified listings as well or very obvious lead generation listings. For everything else, use the Redressal Form.

I only submit listings together in the Redressal Form if they're related (ie: one business setting up multiple listings). Otherwise, I submit one report per listing.

As far as a VPN I'm not sure as I've never outsourced this type of work.

Definitely don't use a company email if you are doing map edits. If your account ends up getting labeled as spam, it will cause all your GMB listings to get suspended. Trust me, Google gets this wrong a lot.

Thank you, Joy.

So it seems I'll have to be selective about my reporting methods on a case per case basis.

Is there a good way to tell what listings are verified vs unverified?

I'll make sure to avoid using a corporate email address for suggesting edits. I'll also be diligent about splitting up my redressal form submissions so that only like entities are submitted together.

I think to be safe, I'll employ a VPN for my VAs doing this work.
 

JoyHawkins

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You can tell if a listing is verified or not by doing the following:

  1. Click to view the business in Google Maps (clicking on the map at the top right corner of the Knowledge Panel will accomplish this).
  2. If it has a “Claim this Business” label, this means it’s not currently owner-verified through Google My Business.
 

BenFisher

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Actually.... Using a VPN is a horrible idea. Only one reason, Google can tell that it is a VPN. I have tested this in a few scenarios and with a VPN submission the success si super low.
 

Gordon.Ligon

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Actually.... Using a VPN is a horrible idea. Only one reason, Google can tell that it is a VPN. I have tested this in a few scenarios and with a VPN submission the success si super low.
Hi Ben, thanks for this insight! Saved me quite a bit of headache it sounds like

Do you have any success submitting these listings from outside the U.S.? Happy to do the task manually but would rather farm out that work if necessary.
 

Herb

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I'm sorry to read, Joy, that Google does nothing about SAB's showing an address, and therefore a pin on the maps. The majority of my competitors are doing exactly that. But I'm going to try using the redressal form to report them anyway. Other than time, it's not going to cost me anything and maybe I'll get some good results if I'm lucky.

I want to provide Google with the best information possible, and I have a question about photo evidence. I've read that the images should be attached as a file at the end of the submission form, but I've also read that they should be sent as links to a google drive file(s) or URL's generated by SNAGIT (which I've never used so I'm nor really sure how that works). If anyone knows for sure or has advice on how to submit images, please share it with us.

Since it's people at Google who look at these redressal forms, I'll send individual redressal forms rather than including a number of businesses on one form. Maybe I'll get lucky and find someone who will do something about this obvious and pervasive spamming.

And I'll let you know when, if ever, I see any results from these redressal submissions.
 

studentoflife

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A service area business that is showing their address really isn’t spam. I think Google ignores these when reported because it doesn’t really matter. To give an example, the majority of small plumbers in my area work out of their house and show their address, but it’s not like customers are going to their house and having the bad experience of it not being open for them to enter.

The big issue is when a single service area business uses multiple residential addresses to create multiple GMB listings. They will use either houses that they own or employee’s addresses. When you report these with enough evidence, Google will take them down.

I generally make up a spreadsheet on Google Sheets and put a link in the redressal form description. I will upload images to Google Docs and also link to those directly.

If someone knows of a better way, please let us know.
 

JoyHawkins

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I've read that the images should be attached as a file at the end of the submission form, but I've also read that they should be sent as links to a google drive file(s) or URL's generated by SNAGIT (which I've never used so I'm nor really sure how that works). If anyone knows for sure or has advice on how to submit images, please share it with us.
Either way should work just fine.
A service area business that is showing their address really isn’t spam. I think Google ignores these when reported because it doesn’t really matter.
Exactly. On the list of what rules you can break, this one is one of the least concerning.
 

Herb

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Thanks for sharing everyone.

So this "thought on my spam reporting strategy" is that it's pretty much a waste of time reporting verified SAB's that are showing an address. If that's so, then it sounds like it might be an idea (good or otherwise) to stop fighting and start doing the same thing as my competitors - include an address on my GMB profile.

I really don't want to do that, however. Apart from the fact I try to do things according the the GMB guidelines because it's the right thing to do, I worry about adding an address to a SAB that has had a hidden address all along. Google's algorithms might catch it and result in a suspension for my site.

In fact, I accidentally included an address a couple of months ago while editing my profile. I noticed it the next day and removed it, but a few weeks later, my site was suspended. I checked everything out, and couldn't see anywhere that I was violating guidelines, so I contacted google requesting reinstatement. A few hours later I received an email confirming reinstatement. Quick and simple - I was impressed with the service from Google on this. So for anyone who is suspended, don't be discouraged. Fix it, request reinstatement, and hopefully you'll receive the same great service I did.

But I suspect that doing it again could cause much more of a problem if I got caught violating the guidelines the same way again. So I won't. I'll just continue sending in redressal forms and hoping for the best without much expectation of success :(.
 
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studentoflife

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Why would you want to show your address?

If you are a service area business, there is no need to show your address. Most of the SAB’s that show their address simply don’t know any better.

From what I have read, it is common to get your listing suspended when you switch, so it might happen again if you decide to do it.
 

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