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Google Business Listing Hijack

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Extremely trying morning with one of my "best" clients.

 

They are dropping a couple of #1 ranking sites with me in favour of google map listings. The company doing this for them is hijacking other peoples listings. They are charging a one time fee of $50 to do it.

 

These listings are for restaurants that are ranking for locksmith terms! WTF???

 

I know this customer is an ass for doing this, and it is something I am not willing to get involved in.

 

How the hell are these people doing this and how do you stop it?

 

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SEMrush

im still too noob to understand the op. 

he had clients, they left him to go with somebody else who is doing what exactly? they claim google listings that other businesses havent?

then what?

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im still too noob to understand the op. 

he had clients, they left him to go with somebody else who is doing what exactly? they claim google listings that other businesses havent?

then what?

 

Thats what I am trying to figure out - I don't know if they are unclaimed listings or what? They are clearly for restaurants - the have pics of the inside of the restaurant, and reviews about how fantastic the food was.

 

The address is just the city and province,  the phone is a 1-800 number. The website connected to the listing is a yellowpages page for locksmiths in that city.

 

Obviously people don't actually read the reviews if this is getting calls from people looking for a locksmith.

 

As soon as it is setup, I would report it. Google tends to act on that sort of thing.

 There is already one there  and ranking #1 in the 3 pack for Locksmith City. 

 

I still don't understand how this is even possible. What is giving it that kind of juice?

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Thats what I am trying to figure out - I don't know if they are unclaimed listings or what? They are clearly for restaurants - the have pics of the inside of the restaurant, and reviews about how fantastic the food was.

 

The address is just the city and province,  the phone is a 1-800 number. The website connected to the listing is a yellowpages page for locksmiths in that city.

 

Obviously people don't actually read the reviews if this is getting calls from people looking for a locksmith.

 

 There is already one there  and ranking #1 in the 3 pack for Locksmith City. 

 

I still don't understand how this is even possible. What is giving it that kind of juice?

Hi dons!

I've seen people doing this.  Just adding a 800 number and yellow pages listing.  I'm wondering if their not trying to make more money on the lead generation part?  "I'll rank you, but then you gotta pay me for leads" kind of thing. 

 

Curious! 

 

~ Theresa

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It sounds to me like this client either got sno-balled into something they do not understand or they are not explaining it correctly.

 

Like Khemosabi pointed out, what's the point of ranking for a term that has nothing to do with your business?

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It sounds to me like this client either got sno-balled into something they do not understand or they are not explaining it correctly.

 

Like Khemosabi pointed out, what's the point of ranking for a term that has nothing to do with your business?

Thanks John!  I had to erase my post because I had it all backwards!  Either way, my point was the same.  Then, I reread the OP and saw that his client is ranking for his business, but with a restaurant's pictures, 800 number and a yellowbook listing, all redirected.

 

I think dons should call the 800 number and find out where that goes.  If it's a lead gen number, then he'll know 50 bucks guy is probably charging for leads in addition to the original service.  Really hard to decide without knowing where the 800 number leads.

 

~ Theresa

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is this possibly some type of spinoff of the fake address thing to get listings in various towns? like instead of 2 listings across 2 towns, they have 2 listings in 1 town?

still not clear on the op, but to claim a business, dont you need to get that postcard in the mail, or are there other alternatives?

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Hi dons!

I've seen people doing this.  Just adding a 800 number and yellow pages listing.  I'm wondering if their not trying to make more money on the lead generation part?  "I'll rank you, but then you gotta pay me for leads" kind of thing. 

 

Curious! 

 

~ Theresa

It could be and they are not telling me that, but I'm not sure that is the case.

 

 

 

It sounds to me like this client either got sno-balled into something they do not understand or they are not explaining it correctly.

 

Like Khemosabi pointed out, what's the point of ranking for a term that has nothing to do with your business?

 

That is the part that is blowing me away. It is ranking for their main money KW!

 

The listing is for the term Locksmith City, the listing only has the city and the province in the address and a 1800 # for a phone. The website that is connected to the listing is a YP listing "category" for their main keyword which is Locksmith City. 

 

 

Dump them on the $50 lowballer and move on to a client that's serious.

 

He has me over a barrel at the moment, he is my biggest client and I still take care of 4 other sites for him - he is using this as a tactic to get me to lower my price. 

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is this possibly some type of spinoff of the fake address thing to get listings in various towns? like instead of 2 listings across 2 towns, they have 2 listings in 1 town?

still not clear on the op, but to claim a business, dont you need to get that postcard in the mail, or are there other alternatives?

 

This is what I can't understand either - The only thing I can think of is that the verification is being done by phone, but I thought google didn't like 1800 's.

 

 I still don't understand how people are hijacking these listings in the first place. How in the hell can they when they are originally verified with a gmail account that has administrative rights for the listing?

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dons, if I may ask, why would he want you to lower your price?  Are you only providing the same service, ie: ranking him? 

 

You know, if it were me, my client, I would point out the pictures of the restaurant, reviews and such.  The 800 number and the website listed leading to a freaking yellow pages for locksmith.  Then, I would ask him what value he sees in that! 

 

Clients can actually be really dumb when it comes to understanding search engines and how they work.  I had one that wanted me to do some work on his site, paid a guy to screw it up (that was the result), then asked me to work on commission, cause he was all broke now! ... Anyhow, he actually bragged that the other guy had ranked him for page one.  ... read on, this is hilarious...

 

I asked him "ranked you for what?"  He says, "my business name" .  Seriously.  Sure, you search YOUR FREAKING BUSINESS NAME, you gonna be #1.  Here's the funniest part.  He has a very, very specific niche.  He's the ONLY one in this area.  He shows up nowhere!  NOWHERE, for what he does.  Hurt a little to turn him down, I have a lot of knowledge in his niche, but commission?  Right, I'll do all the work, trust you to pay me, and all's good! 

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dons, if I may ask, why would he want you to lower your price?  Are you only providing the same service, ie: ranking him? 

 

 

 

Yes, I have ranked him #1 for the highest volume KW in three different cities. His business listing is also in the top three for each of those. He is also on the first page for just about every relevant business term.

 

He claims that he believes the calls are not coming from the organic rankings, but from the business listing in the 3pack result. He claims he ran a test on market by removing his PPC ads and only having a 3 pack listing and he got more jobs in that market then two of the three I work on.

 

So he is basically telling me to lower my price or he is going to go with the company that hijacks the listings for the main KW.

 

The problem is catch 22 - he is my main source of income from this other than a couple of other clients. Of course if I had enough clients I would tell him to go f himself. Also, I don't want him to pull one of the sites which is ranking #1 for a VERY competitive local phrase. At the present time it is the biggest credibility card I have when trying to get new clients.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clients can actually be really dumb when it comes to understanding search engines and how they work.  I had one that wanted me to do some work on his site, paid a guy to screw it up (that was the result), then asked me to work on commission, cause he was all broke now! ... Anyhow, he actually bragged that the other guy had ranked him for page one.  ... read on, this is hilarious...

 

I asked him "ranked you for what?"  He says, "my business name" .  Seriously.  Sure, you search YOUR FREAKING BUSINESS NAME, you gonna be #1.  Here's the funniest part.  He has a very, very specific niche.  He's the ONLY one in this area.  He shows up nowhere!  NOWHERE, for what he does.  Hurt a little to turn him down, I have a lot of knowledge in his niche, but commission?  Right, I'll do all the work, trust you to pay me, and all's good! 

I run into stuff like this all the time - My biggest problem is not SEO, it is getting past the gate keeper to sell it. My second biggest problem is trying to get greedy business owners to see value in it. 

 

The best was a greedy realtor - he wanted to spend $200 a month on SEO, I actually said to him I can do it for that and rank you in 10 years. Really, if you get one sale you stand to make 5% commission in a 500k house, and you want me to get you that lead for $200? Total F*&Ktard

 

Believe me I feel like a schmuck at this moment.

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This is what I can't understand either - The only thing I can think of is that the verification is being done by phone, but I thought google didn't like 1800 's.

 

 I still don't understand how people are hijacking these listings in the first place. How in the hell can they when they are originally verified with a gmail account that has administrative rights for the listing?

im going to guess they arent being 'hijakced', its probably that they are claiming unclaimed listings?

as far as phone verification goes, is that even a thing? i helped a friend get listed and we used the postcard method. thats the only time i had to do it.

if phone verification is a thing, i would imagine they could use any phone number they want. list the number, get verified, then change the number?

 

just out of curiosity, is the restaurant still in business? maybe they are scooping up unclaimed listings of businesses that have closed shop?

 

can you send the info so i can look at it (not that i can necessarily solve anything, im just curious)

town business etc

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dont get me wrong, i have no idea, they could actually be hijacked. just seems like if somebody has claimed a listing and then it got changed they would realize it and do something about it

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He has me over a barrel at the moment, he is my biggest client and I still take care of 4 other sites for him - he is using this as a tactic to get me to lower my price. 

 

Call his bluff and raise the price. There will always be someone with lower prices.

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Yes, I have ranked him #1 for the highest volume KW in three different cities. His business listing is also in the top three for each of those. He is also on the first page for just about every relevant business term.

 

He claims that he believes the calls are not coming from the organic rankings, but from the business listing in the 3pack result. He claims he ran a test on market by removing his PPC ads and only having a 3 pack listing and he got more jobs in that market then two of the three I work on.

 

So he is basically telling me to lower my price or he is going to go with the company that hijacks the listings for the main KW.

 

The problem is catch 22 - he is my main source of income from this other than a couple of other clients. Of course if I had enough clients I would tell him to go f himself. Also, I don't want him to pull one of the sites which is ranking #1 for a VERY competitive local phrase. At the present time it is the biggest credibility card I have when trying to get new clients.

 

Ouch!  Clients will always claim the cheaper guy is getting better results.  To me, what you have stated, are BETTER results.  More long term.  Mike mentioned contacting Google, I think that's great advice.  It's been well known to small businesses to either claim your listing, or lose it.  This guy is obviously exploiting that fact, but I'm positive Google would frown on it, eventually.  To me, it's a form of cyber squatting.  Google really pushes their reputation as being the biggest and the best, yet they seem to get exploited the most!  Some monkey, somewhere, is going to find a loop hole.  That being said...

 

Having a link to a YP and an 800 number, is something worth exploring.  I realize you can't afford to lose him, but just ranking for main KW's is not enough, especially for locksmith/city.  Sure, it's awesome, but ranking for other terms, to me, would get a ton more exposure than just that one source.  Perhaps a sit down with your client is in order?  Instead of offering a discounted price (read: allowing the threat), offer a bit more to your service?  I am just throwing that out there, I have no idea what it is, exactly, that you do. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I run into stuff like this all the time - My biggest problem is not SEO, it is getting past the gate keeper to sell it. My second biggest problem is trying to get greedy business owners to see value in it. 

 

The best was a greedy realtor - he wanted to spend $200 a month on SEO, I actually said to him I can do it for that and rank you in 10 years. Really, if you get one sale you stand to make 5% commission in a 500k house, and you want me to get you that lead for $200? Total F*&Ktard

 

Believe me I feel like a schmuck at this moment.

I deal with Brokers all the time!  They are, seriously, the biggest time suck on the planet.  I had to redesign one of my businesses simply because I was tired of trying to contact them, and educate them on what actually works in 2016, not the 90's.  I'm not a Broker and I know more about how to sell a home!  Hmmmm...

"Theresa goes out, gets herself a Broker's license and CONQUERS THE WORLD!" ..

 

What Realtor's don't understand, is SEO.  They get exposure from other ranking sites and paid ads.  They really don't understand what a home buyer is actually searching for, initially.  Especially in niche markets.  They hope and pray that those zip codes they paid for on Zillow will bring them leads.  Little do they know, zip code purchases are going to be gone, shortly.  First, Zillow's ads (side bar) are deceptive as hell.  My property was listed FSBO.  On the side, right next to the main picture of my ranch, was "contact this realtor about this listing!".  Making it look like that Broker, in fact, had my home listed.  Broker contacts me, says she's got an interested buyer... hope's to get a two sided contract.  Not bad marketing, but deceptive. 

 

There's a lot more I can tell you about Brokers and how to work with them, but this probably isn't the thread to do it.  ;)

 

~ Theresa

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dont get me wrong, i have no idea, they could actually be hijacked. just seems like if somebody has claimed a listing and then it got changed they would realize it and do something about it

 

The only thing I can think of are the businesses that never claimed their listing.  It's easy, really, to claim that listing and use your client's address/info (for physical address purposes) and add more "services" to the description.  A simple explanation of "oh, I changed businesses!  I'm no longer a restaurant owner, I'm now a locksmith" might (I have no idea), satisfy Google.  I don't believe that Google is interested in checking every non claimed listing.  Especially if that business is no longer in operation. 

 

Hell, I still get mail from a business I owned in another state.  The physical address, when looking it up on the search engines, still shows my business name, page one, and I haven't owned it since '09. 

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Dons... I just thought of something.  I don't really know enough, but this may work.  What if you researched that restaurant.  You may have to chase down a rabbit hole, via the images and reviews, but someone, whether it's the actual rest. or a new owner, has a listing that wasn't claimed.  It's easy enough to reclaim a listing. 

 

Just a pondering thought.  Google will give priority over a real listing as opposed to a hijacked one. 

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dont get me wrong, i have no idea, they could actually be hijacked. just seems like if somebody has claimed a listing and then it got changed they would realize it and do something about it

After doing some digging the reviews are 7 years old from a real restaurant - that is still in business a thousand mile from here. Im not sure of the exact distance, but its like having the ranking business in Western NY and the reviews on the page for a business in Minnesota. Not to mention it being ranked for the phrase locksmith city.

 

 

Call his bluff and raise the price. There will always be someone with lower prices.

 

Oh believe me I want to do more than that - I want to tell him to keep all his money and pull the plug on everything. The problem is one of his results is major cred for me.

I have to suck it, until I get some more clients to offset his loss.

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Dons... I just thought of something.  I don't really know enough, but this may work.  What if you researched that restaurant.  You may have to chase down a rabbit hole, via the images and reviews, but someone, whether it's the actual rest. or a new owner, has a listing that wasn't claimed.  It's easy enough to reclaim a listing. 

 

Just a pondering thought.  Google will give priority over a real listing as opposed to a hijacked one. 

 Yes already have done that - they still exist. The only problem is I don't know who else this client has told about this, and If I'm the only one he will know it was me.

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so this may be part of the solution:

for unclaimed businesses, you can suggest edits to the listing. you can suggest a change to pretty much anything.

for claimed businesses, it looks like you can suggest only an address change.

i dont know what happens once you suggest an edit. does google change things blindly? do they contact the person who made the suggestion? do they research it? i dont know.

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oh, don, you told me the listing in question still shows the 'claim this listing' line? so i would imagine they simply suggested an edit and it went through.

tell your guy that if that listing gets claimed, he loses whatever benefit he had.

and perhaps suggest an edit yourself and have it changed to show him how unreliable it is.

and tell him the people he is working with are scammers

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After doing some digging the reviews are 7 years old from a real restaurant - that is still in business a thousand mile from here. Im not sure of the exact distance, but its like having the ranking business in Western NY and the reviews on the page for a business in Minnesota. Not to mention it being ranked for the phrase locksmith city.

 

 

 

Oh believe me I want to do more than that - I want to tell him to keep all his money and pull the plug on everything. The problem is one of his results is major cred for me.

I have to suck it, until I get some more clients to offset his loss.

 

After doing some digging the reviews are 7 years old from a real restaurant - that is still in business a thousand mile from here. Im not sure of the exact distance, but its like having the ranking business in Western NY and the reviews on the page for a business in Minnesota. Not to mention it being ranked for the phrase locksmith city.

 

A call to the restaurant owner may be a good move?  Your new SEO client, plus some rep. management!  Just pondering. 

 

 

 

Oh believe me I want to do more than that - I want to tell him to keep all his money and pull the plug on everything. The problem is one of his results is major cred for me.

I have to suck it, until I get some more clients to offset his loss.

 

Take some screen shots of your creds.  Write down everything you did to get these creds, also, write down what 50 bucks guy is doing.  Write out how this can actually hurt a client in the long run (because it will), and show your client, and new clients how risky it is to just hire any ol' SEO guru.  I really feel your pain, I fight this shit all the freaking time! 

 

You know, it's risky and scary as hell, but what Yukon said "raise your price", is spot on.  Give him the reasons this new guy is working for so cheap.  I see this all the time... educate your clients!  <-- Mostly in the Offline forums. 

 

Something to consider dons.. really consider, is once you lower your price, out of understandable fear of losing him, he's going to expect even more.  100% accuracy rate on that one.  Once a threat works, it always works.  If you have to, spit in his milk!  :lol:

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Are the sites his? Or are you renting them out? Is this in the states? Maybe a few of us can flag them and try to get the listing removed.

Also tell your client the difference between organic and local. Local can be different every week.

Sounds like a bummer.

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