More threads by Blake Denman

It's understandable these tasks take time and may not be billable.

I can't see any reason why it wouldn't be billable. We literally have people who hire us just to spam fight! I think the happiest client I had recently was a guy in a huge city who got pushed out of the 3-pack by a competitor who created a fake listing that ranked first (and his real listing ranked right below it so he was there twice). I got it removed in a couple days and the business owner was ecstatic and couldn't believe how much of an impact it made on his business (his phone started ringing again).

If anything, I would say this is one of the strategies that is currently producing the highest ROI for clients who are in spammy verticals. They also are so thrilled to see it happen.

Always always always bill for time on this :)
I didn't mean to do this for free when you have a client in a vertical with lots of spam. I was making a point about doing this more often every time you see spam regardless if you have a client in that vertical or not.

The serps have gotten so ugly with spam in the Local Pack and optimized websites using the same/very similar keywords.
Ah! That makes sense. And yep, I do that too. I report stuff all the time that I find reported on forums etc or just random stuff I spot in the wild that I verify is fake.

I removed over 100 fake listings for insurance "companies" (aka lead aggregators) a couple weeks ago. That was painful.
If your comparison would mean the refs = Google than consider this to be a game without refs sitting around with sunglasses on (sorry, I can't resist a good analogy) because the automated algorithm doesn't catch like 80% of spam. It only gets caught through humans seeing it. I have very little faith in the spam algorithm. It fails...a lot because a human eye is needed to outsmart the spammers. Unfortunately it's probably not in Google's best interests to load up their team with more and more staff since this is an unpaid product so it really comes down to users who do this as a hobby, business owners, and marketing professionals as being the ones who report it.

Just for fun, I have some fake listings I just leave alone to see if they ever disappear on their own. I finally gave up on one and removed it after being there for 5 years. It ranked in the 3-pack for a competitive term in New York City.

It's just a personal thing, Joy. I love the challenge :)

On the spam, there would be a whole lot less spam if Google would fight it intelligently. Instead of trying to stop people creating fake listings, take away the incentive to even make those listings in the first place: turn down the ranking signal attached to keywords in a business name.

We've discussed this ad nauseum here on the forum. That signal is turned too far up. It's comparable to having keywords in your domain name for SEO. Even when having an EMD helped quite a bit, it never had the power in SEO that having keywords in your business name currently does in Local SEO. And even then Google determined EMD's had too much sway and turned the signal down even further. This is long overdue for Local SERP's, about 2 years overdue in fact. It's pretty ridiculous and archaic. Google is better than this.

If they turned that signal down to an EMD equivalent level, spammers wouldn't rank for 90% of what they rank for right now and they would give up.

The easiest solution is to make 1 little tweak in the local algorithm. Or they can try to hire a million people to ID spam. I guess they've opted for the latter.
I've seen a business totally rename itself to be an exact match keyword. They even have fake reviews.

It gets a whole right-side 1-pack along with those fake reviews.
Tried reporting it, but nothing happened. Probably because the business itself answers as the EMD, EMK.

I've seen a business totally rename itself to be an exact match keyword. They even have fake reviews.

It gets a whole right-side 1-pack along with those fake reviews.
Tried reporting it, but nothing happened. Probably because the business itself answers as the EMD, EMK.

If the real name of the business officially (on signage and business registration) is the EMD then it's fine.
If the real name of the business officially (on signage and business registration) is the EMD then it's fine.

I'm not sure about the signage, but their logo (website) is changed. Also official business registration, not sure about that either.

A few months ago, they had a press-related scandal so they just changed the website and "re-branded". I suspect it's still under it's old corporate entity though.

This is why I held off so far..
I would just drive by the office and check.
i have been searching the past 15 minutes and this thread is the most relevant to my question

as people have been talking about title and exact match domains. how much weight does the city in the business title in your google listing carry? i have seen more and more businesses either keyword name themselves OR add a city name after their actual business name in their locals listing

is the city name after the business name allowed now? top 3 results often have this in various fields

instead of just joe's widgets i am now seeing joe's widgets hillsboro oregon or joe's widgets miami

these sorts of things
Hi I think it does carry weight but see this:

Google uses our location and proximity to the listings more than ever. So if you search [law firm] and [law firm in London], Google is going to return nearly the same 3-local pack because they take in account your physical location.

After some tests I've made (which I want to share in this forum) I concluded that just the keyword is enough to rank well, meaning that keyword + city name might be not so necessary if you already have the keyword.

Those "clever" businesses that append the keyword in their brand name, logo and contact details are really hard to be fought in Google Maps suggest an edit. I think two times I suggested such an edit it got disapproved.

Keywords and city names are against guidelines. The business name as it is only is required.

In a study done last year, Local SEO Guide found that adding keywords to the title made a business rank 1.5x higher on average: Local SEO Ranking Factors Study 2016 - Local SEO Guide

I also documented a recent case of just how much it increased the ranking here.

It's sad, but people do it because it works. I'm actively making cases to tell Google that their engineers need to make it less of a ranking factor. Until they do that, I don't see this going away. It's been this way since Google Places started though so I'm not holding my breath.
Except keywords in name, Google has to deal with fake reviews and duplicate listings acting as doorway pages which link to the same URL. Spammers will always try finding loopholes.

I'm also interested in the after-effect of this. I suspect that listings which had a keyword in name and then removed it also receive a small ranking boost. Of course, it is a thought and I cannot prove it but sometimes I feel that Google remember the association between the keyword-stuffed name and the business name.
I have had clients who have more citations, more quality citations, more photos; fewer linking domains but GOOD links (local, relevant to industry), rank >50 in the local pack. Change the business name and boom! Ranked #2 and have been there for months...

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