How to Fight Spammers: Local SEO for Small Businesses
We hate to be the bearer of bad news. We really do. But the questions we hear most often from local businesses are: Is there a shortcut for SEO? How can I go straight to #1 on Google? Sorry, guys. There are no shortcuts to search engine optimization, and that’s doubly true for Local SEO.
But your competitors might try to pull some sneaky tactics, and we’ll show you how to proactively find and fight them. Cleaning up the junk in search results is good for your customer (and good for you).
Want to level the Local SEO playing field? Look for and report spam on Google Maps.
The purpose of Google Maps is to help people quickly and easily find local businesses. If you want to appear in the Local Pack when people search for companies like yours in their location, then you need to claim your Google My Business listing.
However, some companies try to cheat the system by keyword stuffing or adding the location directly in their GMB name.
This is spam.
While it seems like a shortcut to winning Local SEO, it actually makes search results confusing for customers.
Imagine if you searched for “digital marketing company Bentonville AR” and found 10 variations of that keyword phrase rather than 10 distinct company names. If everyone did this, the Google Maps customer experience would be a nightmare.
Some service area companies will even create a new listing for each city they serve — even when there is really only one physical business location.
For example, Coyote Creative offers digital marketing services on location in Bentonville, AR and in Rogers, AR. So if we were super shady, then we might create two GMB listings: Coyote Creative Bentonville and Coyote Creative Rogers. This makes it look like there are two branches, which is misleading.
This is also spam and should be reported.
How to report spam in Google Maps in 3 steps:
If you’ve already done your keyword research, then you can proactively look for and report spammers in your local market.
Step 1: Google variations of your target keywords combined with nearby city names.
Let’s say your target keyword is “real estate” and you offer services throughout Northwest Arkansas. Try searching for “Real Estate Rogers AR” and look for companies that may be keyword stuffing.
Step 2: Confirm the company name and click “Suggest an edit.”
When you find a listing that appears to be keyword stuffing, open their website in a new tab to confirm the actual company name. If the company name on the website is different than what appears in the Google Map results, then click “Suggest an edit.”
Step 3: Copy and Paste the actual company name.
To give your edits the best chance of being published, copy and paste their company name directly from their website into the name field.
Because this is the name listed on their website, Google can quickly verify that your edits are accurate. Protip: This will also save you from typos!
If your suggested edit is approved, you will receive an email like this from Google Maps:
What’s next for Local SEO?
Whether you hire a digital marketing company or do it yourself, you should perform a monthly Local SEO audit for spammers.