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How to Properly Report Spam on the Google My Business Forum

Important Note: If you are looking to report spam, do not leave a comment on this article. You need to go to the Spam & Policy board and create a new thread for someone to look at your issue.  This article's purpose is to help show you how to format those posts so that the moderators on this forum have all the information we need to get you an answer.

 

We get a lot of posts on the Spam & Policy board but often they don't contain the right information that we need to properly deal with the listing that is being reported.  This article will explain how to format your post and what information should be included.

 

In all these examples, I'll be requesting that you use the short URL for the listing.  This is because the forum cuts off links when they are too long which makes it impossible for us to copy and paste them when we escalate threads to Google.  

 

How to Format the Post:

 

 

I've had lots of users ask me why their posts are getting flagged as spam on the forum when they try to report spam.  It turns out that if you post a thread that has a lot of links in it, Google often flags it as spam, even if the links go to Google properties.

🙄

So what I suggest doing is:

 

  1. Go to drive.google.com 
  2. Create a Google Doc there and put all your evidence & lists there.
  3. Share the document publically
    1. Click "Get Shareable Link"
    2. Next to "anyone with the link", click the down arrow.
    3. Click More > On - Public on the web
    4. Click Save
  4. Share the link to your report on the thread on the forum. 

 

 

Spam Type 1: Listings That Should be Removed

 

If you see a listing that should be removed you need to make sure that you list the following items:

 

  1. The link to the listing on Maps.  Pull up Maps.Google.Com and search for the business and copy and paste the link to their listing.
  2. Why the listing should be removed.  
  3. The evidence of how you know this is true.  

 

Here are examples we get a lot of.

 

  • The listing is using an address that they don't physically exist at such as a UPS Store, mailing service, or virtual office.  If this is the case, you need to list the link to the website for the UPS Store or virtual office company so that we can see that the addresses match.  You can also include a link to Street View showing the business is not there.  If Street View is out of date, you can also submit photos you took of the location although I would recommend doing a video as it's more conclusive.  
  • The business type is not eligible to be on Google Maps.   
  • The listing is a duplicate for a business that already has a listing.  In this case, please also provide a link to the real listing.  Note: practitioner listings are not considered duplicates.
  • The listing is for a Service Area Business that already has another listing.  In this case, you also need to provide a link to their other listing.

 

If you are claiming the listing shouldn't exist you need to always provide evidence that can be used. 

 

Business Licenses:

It's important to note that not every business is required to have a business license so if you're asking to remove a listing because they don't have a license, you'll need more than that to be successful. 

 

Spam Type 2: Listings That Are Keyword-Stuffing

 

Adding keywords to the business name is a common tactic used by SEO companies that want the listings to rank higher.  Adding extra words to the business title to improve ranking is against the Google My Business guidelines

 

If you are reporting a business for doing this please list the following:

 

  1. The link to the listing on Maps. Pull up Maps.Google.Com and search for the business and copy and paste the link to their listing.
  2. What their "real" business name is.
  3. The evidence of how you know this is true.  

Things that can be used as evidence:

  • A link showing their external sign on Street View that doesn't match what's on the listing
  • How their name is listed on their website.  Often these people will list their name as “keyword 1, 2, 3” on Google yet their About us page on their website lists their real name.
  • Government documents such as the business license on the Secretary of State website, State Bar (for lawyers) or the NPI Registry for anything healthcare related.

You cannot use 3rd party directories like Yelp or Yellowpages.com as evidence.

 

Spam Type 3: Fake Reviews

 

Reporting fake reviews is very difficult due to the inability to prove a person's identity if they didn't use their real name, you are more likely to get somewhere. 

 

To request fake reviews to be removed, please list:

 

  1. The link to the review.  To get this, go to Google Maps, pull up the listing and click on the share icon right below the review.  Click the box to shorten the URL.
  2. The link to the listing for the business. 
  3. Why the review should be removed.

 

Here are some common examples that could be removed:

 

  • An employee left a review for their place of work.  In this case, if you have a public document online (website, social media profile) that shows they work at that place, that can be used as evidence.
  • A user is leaving positive reviews for businesses all over the country that they couldn't possibly be customers of.  For example, they claim to use a locksmith in California but a week later they use a garage door business in Florida and then a carpet cleaner in Georgia.
  • The user is posting the same review text on multiple businesses.

 

Here are common examples of things you cannot use as evidence:

  • "This person is not a customer of mine".  Unfortunately, this is impossible to prove due to the fact that Google allows people to use anonymous usernames.
  • "This person is slandering me".  Unfortunately, Google won't remove reviews just because the person is mean unless the review is harassing the person or threatening them in a way that is violent or obscene. 

about Joy Hawkins

I have been working in the Local SEO industry since 2006 and am excited to be part of Google’s Top Contributor program on this forum. I am also a Top Contributor on the Local Search Forum, a contributor to Moz's Local Search Ranking Factors survey, a speaker at SMX, a faculty member of LocalU, and a columnist for Search Engine Land. After working for 2 different online marketing agencies for 11 years, I decided to start my own marketing & consulting company in 2017 - Sterling Sky Inc.

Comments
Francesco d
January

Thanks Joy, definitely useful

Please one question: what about fake positive reviews? I saw activities with many 5 stars reviews by accounts with no other activities than the review


Thanks Joy. What does I do when someone posts photos to my Google my Business but it has nothing to do with my business. I am a photographer and someone posted photos of a tile install job (?) I have reported the photos several times but they are still there. There is no recourse to find the person (clicking on their name brings up a map link). I would like to contact them to have them remove the photos.

It just seems to me that if someone wants to post damaging or derogatory photos there really is no recourse. It makes me think that I should just not have a Google my Business Page. For instance, if a competitor wants to post really horrible photos and say that I did them, there is no recourse for me to have them removed. It's troubling.

 

This is one of the the three photos.

 

https://business.google.com/b/112475245131897161608/photos/l/01616086942621617083?hl=en

JoyHawkins Top Contributor
January

@Francesco d - Fake positives are actually usually what we see reported so this definitely applies to them.

 

@RightBrainforHire - You can definitely report photos that don't belong to your business. Please create a new thread on the forum to do this.  

 

@Rogan H - yes your example would be one that would most likely be removed because I'm not sure how it's possible for one person to go to that many rehabs in a one month period ;)  Post a thread on the forum and someone can assist.

Krav M
January

Hi

 

We have an issue with a competitor creating a number of fake positive reviews for them selves, I understand the points noted abpovebut I cant find anyway t flag these review or report them to google?

Anna F
January

I have tried copying the lsiting address to my own business as well as a scammer/fake locksmith and cannot get either link to work as a whole, or shortened link, as suggested in your article. When I google "Locksmith 98270" and click on the individual locksmiths map listing and copy and past the complete URL into the url shortner it fails. Infact, if I take the information directly from the web address in the tool bar and copy and paste the entire thing into a new google search it fails as well. Tells me my search did not match any documents. Am I copying more of the orginal url than needed? I literally tired removing one character at a time...yes took forever, and never did get either of the two examples below to work in the long or the short version.

 

When I google Locksmith 98270 and Click on Anna's Lock and Key I get this, which fails

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Anna's+Lock+and+Key/@48.09945,-122.1905967,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3...

 

When I click on Zip Locksmith I get this, which fails

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Zip+Locksmith/@48.0583786,-122.2091968,13z/data=!4m8!1m2!2m1!1sloc...

 

I know I am old and not very computer savy, but I have literally spent hours trying to create a valid link to make a report to google. After having spent hours with the department of Labor and Industries and the City of Marysville verifying lack of required licensing, I am stuck and cannot report the offender.Could you possibly Google "Locksmith 98270" and see if I am missing a step, or doing something just blantanly wrong? Thank you for any suggestions you may have.

 

 

 

JoyHawkins Top Contributor
January

@Anna F - I just updated the article and listed a section at the beginning in red that shows you how to get the short URL.

JoyHawkins Top Contributor
January

@Krav M  - at the very beginning of the article I put a link to the spam + policy board.  You can go there and click the pink plus sign at the bottom right corner of the screen to create a new thread.

Anna F
January

Thank you. My granddaughter figured it out. It doesn't show as a hyperlink when typing in the comment area, until you actually hit send, so I thought I was doing something wrong. I truly appreciate your time, I was getting quite confused. 

Anne C
January

Hello!!! Happy Monday :)

 

There is a 1 star review by Nicholas Anderson posted to our profile. https://goo.gl/maps/x9Bnv7NMaAL2 

When I did some researching to looked at his name and noticed that he wrote several reviews that all seemed to just the same for different drug rehabs in Florida during the same period of time.

This clearly is a fake review

JoyHawkins Top Contributor
January

@Anne C  & @Jennifer J  - this isn't the place to post specific examples as they can't be escalated or looked at.  Please follow the instructions in the article and post a thread on the spam & policy board.

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