Unless you’re brand new to the World Wide Web, you know that spam in any form is not a welcome sight. Whether it’s bothersome emails in your inbox, pop-ups urging you to “Click Here!”, or supposedly free offers riddled with hidden ways to take your money, spam seems to always be there, like an unavoidable pest you can’t quite get rid of.

Now, most spam is easy enough to ignore. Just say good-bye, click the little “x” button, and move on with your day.

Unfortunately though, when it comes to GMB listings, spam is more than a simple annoyance you can simply disregard. GMB spam affects a company’s ability to attract new business by hurting its rankings, confusing potential customers, and ruining its credibility. In the end, the reputation and overall success of the business can be greatly affected – and not for the better.

And GMB spam is no good for the user, either. There’s nothing more frustrating than entering a search into Google only to be given a page of hard-to-navigate results. Users want quick answers to their inquiries and having to sift through misleading spam isn’t ideal for anyone.

The big takeaway here? When it comes to GMB listings, ignoring spam simply isn’t an option.

The good news is there are ways to fight back.

Different Types of GMB Spam: Spotting It & Fighting It

1. Keyword Stuffing:

This one’s pretty self-explanatory (and easy to spot). Like the name says, the listing will be stuffed with popular keywords, all of which are trying to grab Google’s attention. Fortunately, this type of spam is less frequent than it used to be, but it’s still there, and it’s one you can easily identify and edit.

How can I spot it?

  • Check for listings with really long names that don’t seem to make sense.
  • See a listing packed full of commas, hyphens, periods, and the like? That’s definitely a red flag.
  • Look to see if popular keywords, as well as business info (like a phone number), are scattered throughout it.
  • Pop on their website (if they have one). If the name on the Google listing doesn’t match the one on their website, there’s an issue.

An example of keyword stuffing: TC Construction – Masonry Construction in South Plainfield NJ, Masonry Companies, Masonry Workers, Masonry Contractor.

How can I fight it?

  • Scroll down on the listing until you see the “Submit an edit” button.
  • Choose “Edit name or other details.”
  • Edit the name right then and there!

Note: Once your edit is submitted, it will still need to be reviewed, so don’t expect the change to be published immediately. Wait a few days, then check to see if the edit went through.

2. Duplicates

Are you seeing multiple listings for the same business all within the same greater metropolitan area? This is an example of duplicate listings. You’ll see a bunch of ones with the same business type, the same name, and the same website.

How can I spot it?

  • Do a search for a service in your area. If you see multiple listings with the same name (or very similar names), chances are they’re duplicates.
  • Look at the websites among the duplicates. If it’s the same on all of them, you’re seeing duplicate postings.
  • See if there are listings with the same name, but different cities/suburbs added to the end.

Note: This is only spam if the location listed has no staffing/customers/etc. If people can actually go and do business there during the hours posted, then the listing is legitimate!

Examples of duplicate postings: Eagle Brothers Roofing, Eagle Brothers Roofing Nashville, Eagle Brothers Roofing of Bellevue

How can I fight it?

  • Scroll down on the listing until you see the “Submit an edit” button.
  • Choose “Close or remove.”
  • From the list of options, choose “Duplicate of another place.”
  • If it offers suggestions for what the posting might be a duplicate of, your best option is to simply choose “None of these” and submit the edit.

3. Address Spam

Address spam is when a business uses an address they do not own to get listed on Google Maps (or to get a listing that’s closer to their target client base). It’s common to see co-working spaces with multiple businesses used for these. Companies have also been known to use chain restaurants, UPS stores, gas stations, and more to get where they want to be on the map.

How can I spot it?

  • If you see listings that are showing up in the city’s center, odds are this is address spam and not a true location.
  • Take a closer look by going to the street view. See any signs, buildings, trucks, or other indicators that the company is actually located there? If not, it’s spam.

How can I fight it?

  • Scroll down on the listing until you see the “Submit an edit” button.
  • Choose “Close or remove.”
  • From the list of options, choose “Doesn’t exist here.”

4. Spam Bombs

As with keyword stuffing, these are fortunately becoming far less common in the spam-fighting world. That said, they still do pop up on occasion, so it’s good to be aware. A spam bomb is when 10, 20, or even 30 listings “magically” appear overnight in one location. They’ll all have similar names, and will have few, if any, reviews.

How can I spot it?

  • A whole lot of new listings seemed to have appeared out of nowhere and seemingly all at once.
  • Check Google Maps – if there are lots of similar listings all right next to each (i.e. all within a few block radius), then your alarm bells should be ringing.

How can I fight it?

  • Scroll down on the listing until you see the “Submit an edit” button.
  • Choose “Close or remove.”
  • From the list of options, choose “Doesn’t exist here.”

Note: If you have a dozen or more listings you’re fighting here, making a spreadsheet to track your submitted edits can be very useful. It makes the process less confusing and ensures you don’t miss a listing by accident.

5. Review Spam

There are a few different ways review spam comes into play. A company could leave fake negative reviews on their competitor’s listing, a company could pay someone to give fake positive reviews to boost credibility, or an outside company could be selling reviews to various businesses.

How can I spot it?

  • If you’re suspicious of a negative review, check to see if the potential customer exists in your system or anywhere in your records. If you have no recollection or paper trail of serving them, it’s likely spam.
  • Check their profile. If it was created the same day the review was left, that’s definitely a red flag. Also, see if their names or profile pictures are fishy. For example, a normal name paired with a picture of Brad Pitt probably isn’t legitimate.
  • Check the reviewer’s other reviews. If you see that this one profile has left only 1-star reviews, or a lot of 1-star reviews in a short period of time, then you’ve likely got a troll on your hands. On the other hand, if you see a profile that has only left 5-star reviews, and a lot of them in a short amount of time all across the country, that’s definitely fishy!
  • Check for orphan reviews. Some negative reviews just have the 1-star rating, but no comment to go along with it. These are often fake.

How do I fight it?

Now when it comes to fighting review spam, how you fight it depends on which website you’re fighting on – Google, Yelp, or Facebook? We’ll break down how to tackle each one.

How do I fight Google review spam?

  • Next to the review you should spot 3 vertical dots.
  • Click on the dots, then choose “Report review.”
  • When prompted, choose the most appropriate response for your report. (Unfortunately, “This is a fake review” isn’t currently an option. Most of the time “This review is not relevant to this place” is going to be the most appropriate for your needs.)
  • Once submitted, you’ll be brought to a screen that thanks you and indicates you may be contacted if any follow up information is needed. In this case, you’ll be contacted through the email listed on the account you submitted the report through.
  • Step By Step: How to report a fake Google review from your desktop or laptop computer
    • Sign in your Google My Business account
    • Look for the location of your business
    • Click on Reviews from the left bar
    • Choose the review you want to report and click on the three-button icon
    • Select “Flag as inappropriate”
  • Step By Step: How to report a fake Google review from your phone
    • Start from your “My Business App”
    • Find the “Customers” tab and then choose reviews
    • Look for the review you want to flag and then tap on the three-button
    • icon
    • Choose “Flag review”

How do I fight Yelp review spam?

  • Log in to your Yelp business profile. (If you haven’t claimed your Yelp account yet, you will need to do this first.)
  • Find the fake review. Next to it you should see 3 vertical dots.
  • Click on the dots, then choose “Report review.”
  • They’ll give you a form to fill out. Enter all the fields with as much detail as possible, as the review is only likely to be removed if it actually violates their guidelines. Enter as much evidence as possible to prove the reviewer wasn’t an actual customer of yours.
    • Are they not in your records?
    • Are they a disgruntled employee (show proof of past employment)?
    • Did that profile leave a lot of the same type of review for different businesses in a short amount of time?
  • Submit the form, and hope for the best! Turnaround time is approximately one week, and you’ll be contacted whether or not the review was removed.

How do I fight Facebook review spam?

Note: Facebook reviews are now referred to as “recommendations.” If this is all you’re seeing, these are your reviews!

  • Find the fake recommendation/review. Next to it you should see 3 vertical dots.
  • Click on the dots, then choose “Find Support or Report Recommendation.”
  • Pick the option most relevant to your situation. In most cases, “Spam or Not Relevant” will be the most appropriate response.

 

Next Steps…

Ok. So, you’ve spotted that GMB spam and done what you can to fight it! …now what?

First things first, give your edits 2-3 days to get reviewed. These (hopeful) fixes won’t be instant, so put them back on your to-do list for a few days from now, and direct your focus elsewhere.

If you check back after those days are up and the problem has been corrected, then great! You’re done. Give yourself a pat on the back and reward yourself for another successful day of fighting those wayward spammers.

If your edits have NOT been addressed, the next step is to submit a Business Redressal Complaint Form to Google. This form does not currently work for submitting review spam, but it does work for all other forms of spam we’ve listed so far. To see the next steps for fighting review spam, skip ahead to the GMB community forum section below!

Tips for Filling Out a Business Redressal Form

A Business Redressal Form needs to be filled out just right in order to be taken seriously (or even looked at in the first place), so follow these tips to ensure you get the assistance you’re seeking:

  • Fill out the form in its entirety (no missing fields), otherwise it won’t even be looked at.
  • You can use your own name and email address, oran alias, as long as it’s associated with an email you have access to.
  • When asked for the name of the entity or organization that is getting impacted, you can put your business listing name here, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, you can put “Multiple.”
  • When asked for the content that is malicious, it’ll depend on the type of spam you are fighting. If you’re combating keyword stuffing, choose “Title.” If it’s duplicates or a fake address you’re tackling, select “Address.”
  • At the bottom there will be a paragraph section where you can plead your case. Be specific here! Explain exactly how Google’s guidelines are violated and how it’s negatively impacting other businesses (as well as the search experience for the user). Note: Quoting Google’s guidelines can be very useful here!
  • Be impartial. If you’re feeling frustrated and fed up with spam, it’s very easy to get personal and expressive. In the end, Google doesn’t want to know how you feel or how a situation is unfair to you and your business. They simply want to know how their rules are being broken. Again, quoting their guidelines back to them, then explaining how exactly they are being violated can be really effective.
  • Take your time! Make sure everything is filled in and all of the information is as accurate as possible. Double check your submission before clicking that “Submit” button just to ensure nothing was overlooked or inputted incorrectly.
  • One last important tip – we recommend including the following phrase (or a version of it) in every single redressal form you submit:

“The listings mentioned above violate Google’s guidelines and should be removed from Google Maps. These listings are pushing legitimate listings down out of the search results and are denying work to legitimate businesses that rely on Google for business. These multiple fake listings make it harder for consumers to find legitimate business and are eroding the trust that consumers have in Google.”

Once your redressal form is submitted, give it about 2-3 weeks to be reviewed and addressed. If nothing changes after this time, try submitting it again, but be sure to look it over and see what you could modify or expand on. Is there anything you could rephrase differently? Is there another guideline you could point out?

Using the GMB Community Forum

If another 2-3 weeks go by without any action completed, the final step you can take is to bring your case to the GMB community forum. Submit a question with all of the information you presented to Google in the redressal, along with the redressal case ID (this should be in the email they sent you). There are Google product experts in the forums that can help escalate your case.

Note: If you take this approach, it’s highly recommended you use an alias or email that isn’t associated with any of your personal information, especially if you are going after review spam.

So… Is it Really Worth It?

We get it. GMB spam fighting is a lot of work and requires keeping a vigilant eye, requesting edits, and possibly even submitting redressals (which don’t always go through). So here’s the big question – is it even worth the fight? Especially when you might put in all that time only to be ignored?

While it’s true that spam fighting isn’t as effective as it once was, we say yes – it’s worth it. Because if the effort you put in pays off it could mean a higher ranking on Google’s first page.

In the end, fighting spam is one of the most effective ways to earn a coveted top spot in the local pack, and the impact that can have on your business is incomparable!

You’re Ready!

Alright – now that you’re armored with GMB spam-fighting knowledge, it’s time to get to work. Be on the lookout and be ready to act next time you see a suspicious listing. You’ll be a spam-fighting professional in no time!