Any business category in any town can have spammy listings, so probably some of your competition is spam/fake. Is it cause for concern? Of course, it is.
Their listing could be above yours and get the customers that should be yours.
Pro Tip: At the same time you are searching for spam/fake Google My Business profiles, please save everything you find as you may need to use this information as evidence for Google.
How to find Spam/Fake Google My Business listings – Step by Step Instructions:
Go to google.com or google.com/maps and search for a main(s) business category(ies) + Town or Keywords + Town. E.g. “Dry Cleaners London”, “Plumber Boston”, “Accountant Dublin”, “Window Cleaning Perth”.
Pro Tip: On Google Search results, click on the “more businesses” link at the bottom of the local pack, and you’ll be taken to the local list of businesses
Google Local Search
Google Map Local Search
Now go into each listing above and up to 10 listings below your business profile, then follow the next list of steps or use my spreadsheet as a guide:
Check Google Maps Street View, Google Maps, Google Search
- Does Street View confirm they are at this address? You may find a vacant lot, grocery store, drugstore or even a parking lot or a residential area. Is there a shopfront and clear business signs?
- Does the business name on the listing match what’s on their sign in Street View?
- Make note of any businesses that share an address, phone number, or very similar name
- Zoom in on Google Maps to identify other listings that are also using this same address. Check if they are the same business or looks unlikely the building can have that many businesses so probably is a fake address
- Check the address. Do a Google search for the address, does it return a UPS store website or mail service, P.O. Box, post office or virtual office as an address? (these are not allowed)
- If you are in the US, you can try a free Chrome extension GMB Scanner to help spot fake, invalid, or virtual office addresses.
Check Official Information
- Does the business name on the listing match what is listed on their business license/certificate? You can look at business information that is registered by searching for them on your country’s Company Official Databases , example:
- Other Official documents/registers can be used to verify a business name, example:
Check the Business Website
- What name is listed on their website? Often the listing has a name as “keyword 1, 2, 3” on Google yet the “About us”/”Contact us” page on their website lists their real name.
- Does the address on the listing match what is listed on their website?
- Check if operating hours are same as the listing
- Does the website advises they are an online-only/e-commerce business
- Any clues they are a Lead Gen/fake Business, like they will put you in contact with a professional
- Is it a fake looking website?
- Look at their terms and conditions, do they advise they are not responsible for the service/products?
- Site seems broken or distributes malware, that’s a sign of a fraudulent listing?
Check Phone number
- Call the phone number. Tip: Call anonymous so they can’t call you back.
- How do they answer the phone? Many spammers who create tons of fake listings answer their phone with something generic like “Hello, locksmith” or “Hello, service”. Normal businesses generally answer with their business name. If they answer as just “hello” you can always ask “Hi, I’m trying to make sure I got the right number, what business is this?”
- Ask for directions to their office and see how they respond.
- The number redirects to a different business.
- It’s never answered or has a suspicious voicemail box.
- It’s disconnected or doesn’t even work in the first place.
- Search on Google for the phone number as it could be used by another business or one of those free SMS numbers websites
- Copy + Paste each Listing Google Maps URL
- Take screenshots of Google Street View of the address showing that it is
- a private address or
- a post office/UPS or
- another business is at the address or
- it’s permanently closed or
- it’s an empty field
- Get the specific link to the zoomed-in version of Street View that shows the particular sign/building/plot.
- Take screenshots of the issues on the website: business name, terms and conditions, address
- Record the calls when you call to verify the phone number
- Record the Government sources and Official Sources URL, include the URL to the source if you cannot show the search query and screenshots
- URL Link to a 3rd party business website If the address matches another business. For example, “This address is actually a Regus virtual office” and then link to Regus’ location page
- You should not use sites like Facebook or Yelp
- Drive by the location and take photos of the place plus Street Nameplate
- You can always reference other listings on Maps as proof that this listing shouldn’t be there (Ex: this business already has a listing here…)
Add all the evidence to a Google Folder and add URLs including comments to a spreadsheet or use my Google Sheet Template.
Make sure you include the name, address, Maps URL, phone, and any other proof you are using to make a case in your sheet.
Choose your next Chapter:
To learn the latest about Google My Business, you should check these articles:
- Google My Business Suspended: Flagged For Suspicious Activity or Due To Quality IssuesYour business has been unfortunately suspended, and the reason for […]
- 500 Error Message When You Verify Your Google My Business ProfileThere is a new trending issue with Google My Business, […]
- Google My Business Products Not ApprovedGoogle changed the way Products work on Google My Business, […]