How to Spot Fake Law Firms in Google My Business

In early November 2019, Google launched a local algorithm update that shook up local pack results more than I had seen in a long time. This update caused a lot of fake law firms to start ranking for important keywords which also pushed legitimate law firms out of the local pack.

Two fake law firms ranking for truck accident lawyer

Look at these awesome fake businesses ranking for “Fresno Truck Accident Lawyer”.

If you were affected by this recent algorithm update you shouldn’t make any sudden changes to your listing. Right now, my advice would be to wait it out and in the meantime report fake law firms.

If the fake and spam law firms are removed in your market for important keywords, your listing will perform better.

If you want to rank better, get rid of the spam

You would think with Google’s massive resources that they would be able to get a better handle on the spam problem in Google My Business.

While I fully admit I don’t understand the challenges of creating and enforcing such a system, I can see it’s been an on-going problem for many years now.

Also, in my opinion, it’s not getting any better. In fact, many spam listings are replaced as fast as we can submit them to be removed. But since spam networks usually target many markets at the same time, you can see a lot of strong results by cleaning up your own market.

It’s important to accept that Google is not going to do the work for you. Don’t leave it up to Google. Make spam fighting a part of your process and you will rank higher.

So how do you find fake law firms to report?

Finding fake law firms to report can be tricky. Some unethical marketers will go to great lengths to hide information about their fake businesses. However, for the most part, you can identify them pretty easily.

While tools can make this process a lot easier, this is a manual way you can use without any tools.

  1. Open up Google Chrome in Incognito mode (and not logged into Gmail, etc.)
  2. Assuming you are searching from your office pull up https://www.google.com/maps/
  3. Type in keywords that are important to you. Here are some examples:
    1. Car Accident lawyer
    2. Personal Injury Lawyer
    3. Truck Accident Lawyer
    4. Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

      Make sure to do this for every keyword that’s important to you.

  4. Review the listings and scrutinize the listing. Here are some red flags
    1. Look at the business name. Is it an exact match keyword? This could be a sign.
    2. Check out the website field. Do you see business.site? These are free websites provided by Google My Business. They are quick and easy to set up and a dream for spammers.
    3.  Hours of operation. Are they open 24 hours? This is another red flag.
    4. Does the label say “Claim this business”. If it’s not verified, it probably is not real if any other of these red flags are found as well.

      Here are some ways you can spot fake businesses on Google

If you type in more specific keywords such as truck or motorcycle accident law firm you will these babies rank all day long.

If two or more of these red flags are met, the listing is probably fake. You can of course always read the reviews as well and see if there are red flags in there. The people creating fake listings used to not have reviews which made them even easier to spot.

After you have identified the listing you should go to their website and see if they seem legit.

But now that you found them what should you do?

Reporting Fake Google My Business Listings

While there are different ways to go about reporting a business, marking it as spam, etc., I prefer to use Google My Business Business Redressal Complaint Form found here: https://support.google.com/business/contact/business_redressal_form

This form allows you to easily report these businesses. While they may not get to it promptly (think weeks), they usually get taken care of and eventually go down. When this happens you will see a lot of movement in the SERP’s and your law firm will rise!

It sucks, but do it

Honestly, it sucks that regular algorithm updates reward these and it sucks that you have to do it yourself. However, you really need to do this.

This is in line with my general advice of: “Never just leave it up to Google if you can do something about it” – Casey Meraz

Do you report spam? I would love to hear your comments below.

 

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Casey Meraz

Casey is the founder and president of Ethical SEO Consulting and Juris Digital based in Denver, CO. Casey's specialties are in organic and local SEO. He is a regular contributor to the Moz Blog and the author of How To Perform The Ultimate Local SEO Audit. If you have an SEO question or need advice please feel free to reach out by email: cmeraz@jurisdigital.com. Follow Casey on Twitter @CaseyMeraz.