I’ve been working with Google Gold Product Experts (formerly Google Top Contributors) for a year and a half now, and in this time one particular issue has come up probably more than anything else: spam on Google My Business.
Until this week, one of the best recourses to report GMB spam that hurt your local business rankings (alongside contacting the GMB team on Twitter and Facebook, which you can still do) was to post details about it on the official Google My Business forum and hope that one of the many Sheriffs of Spamland would heed your call.
Well, no more!
This week Google finally took a big step towards acknowledging the damage GMB spam does to consumers and businesses alike by announcing a new way to report GMB spam (apart from fake reviews) that gets reviewed by a human at Google:
Introducing the ‘Business Redressal Complaint Form’
*sound of fireworks*
Well, it’s certainly not the sexiest name, but what it does will make things so much easier for local marketers tired of submitting the same spam reports again and again that I’m willing to forgive Google for such a lexical travesty.
If you’ve come across “misleading information or fraudulent activity on Google Maps related to the name, phone number, or URL of a business”, follow the below steps to alert Google to it.
Here’s how to submit a Google My Business spam complaint:
- Click here to head to the form (you’ll want to bookmark it as it’ll soon become your best friend)
- Read the guidelines linked to in the form’s introduction carefully. This is what the Google staffer reading your form will judge your complaint against, so you need to make sure what you’re claiming is misleading or fraudulent is specifically at odds with something in these guidelines.
- Enter your information. Even if you’re a local marketing consultant or agency representing another business, you’ll need to enter your name and email address.
- Select the fraudulent content in question (Title, Address, Phone number, or Website) and add the public GMB URL in the field below. (More than one type of content to complain about? Sorry to say this, but it appears that you’ll have to submit multiple forms).
- You might want to build a stronger case using multiple URLs. If you have a few (2-10), you can use the ‘Add additional info’ link to add new fields. If you have more than ten (up to 100), you can use the CSV upload feature to submit a spreadsheet.
- Now for the fun part: write, in detail, why the content is malicious or fraudulent. I can’t stress enough how important the level of detail is. Google Gold Product Expert Ben Fisher championed those who gave great amounts of detail when submitting spam to the GMB forum in a recent webinar, and we can only assume that Google’s own team require a similar level of detail. Write clearly, professionally and respectfully, and be make sure to refer to how the subject of your complaint is contravening the aforementioned Google guidelines where possible, to make the Google staffer’s job a little easier. If you’re reporting multiple incidents of spam, it makes sense to have those exhibiting the same bogus characteristics (e.g. keyword stuffing in business name) grouped together in one complaint to save you having to submit multiple reports.
- Take one last look through the completed form.
- Rub a lucky rabbit’s foot.
- Click ‘Submit’.
What now for the Sheriffs of Spamland?
While persistent spam-fighters like Joy Hawkins, Jason Brown, Ben Fisher, and Tim Capper won’t exactly be handing in their badges (they’ll still be helping to #StopCrapOnTheMap for their own clients), they’ll no longer be able to help you with spam on the GMB forum, as the Spam & Policy section of the forum will soon be retired.
This admittedly means you won’t get the personal touch you’ve come to love when engaging with the product experts on spam, but it also means they can spend their precious (and, might I add, free) time helping business owners and local marketers with other GMB issues!
I’m happy to answer any questions here the best I can, but I would recommend you first check out this excellent thread on the Local Search Forum, in which Joy Hawkins has done (and I’m sure will continue to do) an excellent job answering frequently asked questions about this new process of submitting GMB spam reports.
If you’ve noticed any changes in the form, or have found new ways to do some of the above, please do let me know and I’ll be happy to amend the post.
In the meantime, happy spam-fighting!