Local SEO, like organic SEO, has had its share of spam too, simply because all are looking to cut corners.
Lots of businesses are adopting spammy schemes like decorative keyword stuffing, multiple GMB profiles, falsified + glorified reviews, lead generation websites, etc., to get ahead in the race with their competitors.
GMB spam is not just unethical, it’s also against Google My Business guidelines. Apart from that, it raises questions on Google My Business’s credibility and affects its reputation as a trustworthy informational platform.
One of the most common and spiteful spam tactics is Google My Business name spam. It’s not that surprising when you consider that Google still gives way too much importance to keyword presence in the business listing titles. It still doesn’t validate the illegitimate name spamming.
What Do You Call a Google My Business Name Spam?
A Google My Business name spam is when a business puts down decorated or inaccurate business names in their business profile rather than their business’s real-world name.
This could be a genuine mistake. It is possible that whoever set up the GMB listing weren’t aware of the guidelines and didn’t know that they had to use their business’s registered name.
They probably saw other spammy listings do it and thought of it as a legitimate practice.
However, there are a few who do that on purpose. There are some people who stuff keywords and location into the GMB title to boost ranks for those keywords.
Google has made it bluntly clear in their guidelines:
“Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name… Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your Business Profile being suspended.”
Another major reason for Google My Business name spam being so consistent is that it’s very easy to edit your business listing name.
It’s the first thing that appears in the Info tab in the GMB dashboard. Click the pencil icon next to the name and you can edit the name.
Google My Business Name Spam Types
Using synonyms in the business name
A single thing can be said in lots of different ways. That is one of the reasons why ranking on the internet is such a tedious job.
Stuffing synonyms of business type and variations of keywords into the business name is one of the most popular forms of Google My Business name spam.
Some businesses even go over the top with it, like this one example that a twitter user pointed out:
Stuffing location into the business name
One of the most influential factors to rank locally is the location. Afterall, that is what local searches are for.
That is the reason why location spamming is another frequently adopted Google My Business name spam practice.
Have a look at these listings for example. They all have one thing in common, location spamming.
Using emojis in business name to stand out
Some businesses use emojis in their business listing titles to make it more interactive. One can argue that it’s a good marketing practice.
But, when a business adds star emojis in their business listing title, it’s no longer just a marketing practice. It becomes a Google My Business name spam.
Have a look at this listing for example. This is quite not fair to the businesses who are working hard to rank locally.
Including subjective adjectives in the business name
Using subjective adjectives like ‘best’, ‘top’, ‘No 1 rated’ is another debatable marketing tactic. Like emojis, these adjectives add a claim to the business itself.
It’s not fair to try and influence buyers by claiming to be elite when there aren’t any authorities providing you the permission to.
Look at this listing for example:
Accidental Google My Business name spam
Accidents happen, everywhere. Google My Business name spam is no exception. There must be millions of GMB listings all around the world. It is unlikely that all of them would know about all the precautionary guidelines.
Which is why, a lot of businesses adopt spammy tactics not knowing that they shouldn’t.
You can easily find inaccurate blogs that tell you to follow the illegitimate practices that your competitors are following. It’s a good idea to study your competitors but making the same mistakes that they are is a bigger mistake.
What you can do about Google My Business Name Spam
Google does have algorithms in place to spot spam. But unfortunately, they aren’t always effective. Apparently, Google doesn’t trust its algorithms as much as it trusts consumers and business owners who try to identify Google My Business name spam and get it removed.
BrightLocal’s local search ranking factors survey revealed that local SEO experts regard spam-fighting as the top practice to increase rank in local search. So, instead of following the same spammy tactics as spammers, it’s a better idea to focus on removing the spam.
Identify and remove Google My Business Name Spam
You’ll need to identify spam in order to get it removed. That can be done quite easily.
First, perform a Google search for the term that you wish to eradicate the Google My Business name spam from. Navigate to Google’s three pack and click on ‘View all’ to see more listings.
Have a look at the listings and make a list of listings that you find suspicious.
To check whether the listing name matches the business’s actual name, go to their website by clicking on the website link that they’ve provided.
The name that you see on their website would be their real-world business name. If you’re not sure where to look in the website, their homepage title would most-probably have their business name. Otherwise, check for their logo and footer.
Once you identify the spammers (accidental or deliberate), the first thing I suggest you do is ‘Suggest an edit.’
There’s a good chance for that spam to be intentional, but there’s also a fair chance of it being accidental. Suggest an edit and see if the business fixes it.
Although, if they don’t or if you have a feeling that the business needs some action taken against, you can submit a complaint in Google’s Business Redressal Form.
Raising your issue via the Redressal Form will take your query to a reviewer, a human reviewer, and not leave it up to bots and algorithms. You can submit all your findings in this form. Attach some screenshots to help the reviewer with the process, and if all is in order to what you’ve found, Google will take actions against that listing.
Google My Business name spam is an upsetting practice that is unfortunately adopted by many businesses around the world. It gives a hard time to businesses who are working hard to optimize their business listing in a legitimate manner.
Speaking of optimization, check out our article on Google My Business optimization if you wish to improve your rank in local search results. We’ve talked about different aspects of GMB that can help you improve your local SEO.
Additionally, if you want a professional consultation for your Google My Business listing, feel free to drop us a note and we’ll get in touch with you.