That’s right folks; companies are out selling map listings with monthly management fees and touting they are better than PPC ads. The sad truth is companies are buying this BS. In the past two weeks I have had two clients approach me with emails they have received from other companies trying to sell guaranteed Google Map listings. If this happens to you, please feel free to reference them to this article.
Google Maps Really Is Quick And Easy:
Google Map listings take about 10 minutes to complete. Anyone charging a monthly fee on this is hurting the rest of us who do real marketing and are trying to make SEO legit. As a little proof of just how easy it is try it yourself.
It’s Just Spam Tactics and “SPAM is always a SCAM”
MySearchSEO.com highlighted their success this way:
Obviously their “expertise” is to spam the map listing.
To Google spam is bad! Jet Plumbing is the name – all the stuff after that is to improve keywords rankings. Listings D – J comply with Google’s TOS. If you see something like A – C, and your company is doing it the right way, I strongly suggest you submit to Google Maps Spam Report.
Internet-Focus.com is doing the same thing. In the image below you can see how they spam company name to get more map listings. For a good laugh, they have a video to help you understand that Google Maps listings are the best, and they are the “experts” who work tirelessly to get you good keyword placement within Google’s standards.
Watch out for “review” spam as well. Several companies will fake several reviews of your business and if Google picks up on it, you can get black listed. Signals like 15 reviews in 3 days when you haven’t had any for months, or any after, send red flags to Google to manually review your map listing.
A Bunch of BS
These companies prey on small shops that are not internet savvy. With less money for their offerings they swoop in as online marketing hero who can deliver results like PPC and SEO at a fraction of the cost.
Here is an excerpt from an email one client got from MySearchSEO.com:
“Thank you for taking the time to talk to me today regarding our advertising options for you. As we discussed anyone looking in your local area will be able to find you on line when they are looking for you and your services. The services that I offer do work wonders for businesses just like yours. Our services are practical and street smart. There is no contract, simply a $99 processing/ programming service charge and $169 per month, month to month. If you have any questions, please call me. Check out these keywords for our client in NEW ORLEANS: Landscaping New Orleans, Landscape lighting New Orleans, Landscape Design New Orleans are a few we have him listed under related to his field and city!
This is the link to our Better Business Rating:
I’m still trying to figure our what the ongoing fee is for. I heard one company suggest making multiple fake address listings to improve rankings for different metro searches. Maybe the fee is so they can keep creating more listings if/when Google takes one down. I also find it “odd” that they put the BBB link in on their sales pitch. In my experience, anyone offering this up without first being asked is a red flag. My company is a member of the BBB and not one proposal I have ever sent has mentioned it. Do they know they suck, but are trying to prove some legitimacy?
Lets Dig Deeper
If you do a “whois” lookup on their URL you won’t find who owns the site. However in their promotional image above you also see that they are rankings clients organically with www.relevantyellow.com.
The funny thing is relevant yellow is a poor mans Yellow Pages. And, Yellow Pages is the very site they are insinuating sucks compared to Google Maps. One Google Map Placement company went as far as to show the Google trends of “Yellow Pages” vs “Google maps”. I agree it’s a good comparison chart to show, but seems wrong that you then optimize a directory site for a client listing instead of do SEO for clients sites.
As for the company itself, relevantyellow.com is owned by relevantads.com. I did a quick search for this company, and it appears that many find them to be a scam.
The Business Model Is Crap.
The traffic claims these map listing companies bring are greatly exaggerated. Consider how many times someone will search for this small set of keywords with your location as a modifier. Then consider what percentage of those clicks your map listing is going to get. Now compare those clicks to the PPC or SEO clicks your are getting. I’m not saying map listings are bad, I’m just trying to give you some perspective to their overall importance.
To compare a landscaping client my company has – out of 7,615 visitors, just 7 clicks came from Google maps. This illustrates the importance PPC and SEO have over the amount of visitors your map listing can bring.
Map spam may get you better placement in the short-term, but once Google finds it (or someone submits a SPAM report) you may find it harder to get a local map ranking at all. I’m sure as Google finds more companies abusing this system; they will have to bring tougher penalties on the companies who try to repeatedly cheat.
In the email from MySearchSEO.com, “Tony Stark” also says the following:
“You are spending money on pay-per-click and so are about 50 other competitors in your immediate area. To be fair to everyone Google rotates all of the 50 business from page #1 to page#4. So you’re not always on the front page to get the best return and maximum exposure to your business.”
Dude! Google does not have a “fairness” policy! Ads are not rotated from page 1 to page 4. Google, like any other company, likes to get paid. Thus, the PPC accounts with the highest bids and best quality score get the highest rankings.
It’s lies like this that makes me have to work harder… Thanks Tony!
Hey Brandon, I appreciate the strong feedback. I wrote this post a year ago and a lot has changed (thankfully) with local rankings and local listings. From what I have seen, I think the blackhat practices have died down too.
I’ll still say it takes about 10 minutes to setup a Google Maps Listing – but this does not include the time spent with other map profiles and citation sources. Also, if you are doing local setups for companies, I think you should be getting paid for your work. The rankings are important and companies should be going after them. JUST IN THE PROPER WAY.
I thought the examples provided a fact-based way of communicating what I hope everyone in the industry would see as bad practices. I think the other comments here also support the overall message too. It’s the “lying”, “guarantees” and “spamming” that is just not good. I doubt you are ever going to change my mind on that.
Google Maps are not a scam. Check any market that is competitive and do a search. For Example,
auto insurance los angelas ca.
So….the first 7 (7 pack) are there for a reason and it isn’t based on 10 minutes of set up time. All the other thousands of results that are on the additional pages wish they were in the 7 pack and wont be there EVER unless someone knows how to manage the listing in places.
Research before you run your mouth like a crybaby who is losing customers.
I own a pest control company in Davidson County TN. I hired a “spammer” without knowing better… I wanted to compete, and I got fantastic results for a while. I noticed all of my lising where being reviewed one day so I took the time to do some digging in to the company I hired. I found out everything they were doing was against Google Places TOC. Will see what happens now that I deleted all my “spam” listings. Pest control companies like U S Pest Protection are major scammers “spammers”, Armaxx Pest Control Services, Ace Exterminating, Arrow Exterminators, and even Orkin and Terminix are spamming Google Places.
OK I see you’re point. I’ve created multiple map listings for my clients & they’re getting great results. I charge them $30 per month to maintain the map listings & ensure this listing has good rankings & also leaving fake reviews to boost the rankings. Whether you think this is a scam or not my customers would probably tell you to f off if you told them it was a scam. Some of them get 5-10 jobs per month for just $30. This to me is good advertising, I do not guarantee anything, I charge them once the listing appears on the 1st page & they’re more happy. This helps their website anyway because they’re getting more hits from the listings.
Ok let me get this straight, you work for an SEO company & because someone has offered one of your clients a cheaper alternative to get their website on the 1st page of Google you’re saying they scam? I sell advertising in my business directory, I also sell SEO, Google Maps, Web Design & pretty much everything. And let me tell you Google maps is no scam, just because someone can set it up within 10 minutes that doesn’t mean it’s a scam. Surely charging $169 per month is rediculous but then again if you can get someone 5 jobs per month & they’re paying $169 per month for 5 jobs that is great advertising in my opinion. I know companies that charge $1000 per month for SEO but I can get better results with another company for $200 per month, so does that mean the company charging $1000 per month are scammers? A service is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, what about all these people paying Yellow Pages $50,000 per year & sometimes getting 5 jobs per year, I bet you they’d rather have Google maps if they knew they could get more work from that for cheaper. Just because you lost a client or 2 that does not mean everyone selling Google maps to their clients are scammers.
Thanks for the comment @ Bernie. If this was the impression you got, I glad you said something, because this is not the way it went down.
No client lost. Nothing cheaper than free – not trying to charge anything.
My point is about the guaranteed rankings, the on-going Map maintenance fee, and the deceit in which some companies are positioning Maps in order to sell their monthly service. The above post exemplifies bold lies. Read it again, and read the other comments and I think you will see what I mean.
Personally, I don’t make Google Maps out to be some big huge thing. Google sends out reports automatically, it takes a couple of minutes out of my life to set one up and verify it. I don’t say Google Maps will get you more traffic than SEO. Finally, and perhaps my main point, I don’t make ridiculous ranking guarantees.
If I was doing setups on an ad hoc basis, which it sounds like you are, I can see how $200 might be a fair one-time price. Since I don’t sell Maps listings as a separate thing, I’m happy to do it for free if it gets my clients better numbers. Again, typically no where near what SEO & PPC can bring in, but nonetheless they are happy to see their company rank for geo-targeted terms. I don’t think “a service is worth what someone is willing to pay for it” – when it’s built on lies. To me that’s unethical.
I’m still waiting for someone to outline for me a monthly Google Maps campaign and show me what deliverable’s are being brought back to these clients. If you can tell us what you do for a fee, please share.
Yep, lots of bozos out there claiming to be experts and gurus because they read a blog or forum post; no experience needed; just create a website, make some claims and start calling the victims, er, the potential customers.
I hate to admit it, but right now we’re so swamped with projects and clients, I wish there was a way to prevent so many new customers from calling and requesting help. Seems as soon as I get a dozen projects out the door, twice as many more arrive.
We build, manage and promote websites with SEO and today I can refer clients to a responsible, qualified person for Google Places too. The only thing they guarantee is that you’ll be happy with the results.
I was going to offer Google Places optimization myself, however, after determining the avalanche of work and time involved (plus the problematic Google local algo), I decided not to. It took me at least half a year to find someone honest, competent and cost effective.
It is really too bad that people fall for SEO companies that use blackhat tactics. My company doesn’t use such tactics. In addition, we don’t charge until the work is done and the client’s site is on the first page for their keywords and primary markets.
When a prospective client fills out my form, the keywords are thoroughly researched before accepting them as clients. I look at their site meta tags to get a feel for what the client is trying to convey to customers.
People use our services because they don’t want to do it themselves or they don’t know how. The monthly maintenance fee is exactly that…maintenance. I constantly monitor for a drop in their maps listing. If there is a drop, I jump in and tweak the listing to bring it back up.
Those of you who think managing a Google maps listing is “so easy” are full of it. This is REAL work and sometimes its not easy, particularly when a client comes to me AFTER they have tried to do it themselves and screwed things up royally.
Oh yes, it great fun cleaning up the mess of multiple rogue listings for the same business that the owner tried to do himself. Sometimes it takes weeks to clean up the mess they caused. Easy my foot.
Even when they insist on using keywords with heavy competition, I still manage to get them first page listing on the maps. It may take many tweaks but I get them there.
I do it all hosting, SEO, build sites, maps and organic listings. Not one unhappy customer in the bunch. What have my clients said to me?
“FINALLY! Somebody who does what they say they are going to do.”
“I am swamped.”
“Most all of our customers tell us they are coming from Google maps.”
Just last week a new customer called. Said that the company he was using at the time wanted to start charging him $200 per month and if he didn’t pay it they would take his listing down. He wanted my help.
I set up a new listing for him and claimed the one that was going to come down. Not only did I get him a higher listing, he enjoys top listing on the first page of maps for his keywords and any combination of other related keywords he hadn’t considered.
He calls me and says “Can I get some other keywords too?” I said “Already done.” I showed him all the keywords his business shows up for. He thanked me profusely and paid my fee, which is MUCH LESS than what the scammers were trying to get out of him. This guy is a lawyer. You think I’m going to screw him around?
You don’t prosper when you scam and cheat people. The word will get out and you will lose. To succeed in business you must be honest in your dealings or your business will not last very long.
I am proud of the work I do and am very good at it. My prices are reasonable, love doing this and do what I say I’m going to do, which is to get your business on the first page. No scam here!
If I could only tell you the story of how I got …or rather “thrown head first” into this business, it would make a great read!
Although I can’t see Donna’s comment, I’m sure it is true. I worked there for only a few weeks and came in Monday to see they had cleared out the office last weekend. IN MY OPINION, it was a total chop shop. Do yourselves a favor and IF you decide you can’t do SEO yourself, only do business with Network solutions or some other large corporation that has been in business over a few years. Irvine, CA is the mecca for these chop shop seo companies for some reason.
MySearchSEO.com contacted me. I wanted to hang up, but then I heard such BS that I had to stay on line just to hear how they screw people over. It’s a SCAM. They write fake positive reviews about your site and clog up the Internet with fake blogs about your business and that’s what Google is looking for to rank you higher in maps. Wow! That should be a crime. Here is a quick truth… If you allow them to create a Google Local Listing for you and start paying them, they got you by the oo, because if you don’t pay them the next month, they will replace your ph and website link with another victim, but you will never have control over your listings. ——– Here is what to do: Go to Google Local Maps and create your own listings, and every time you get a call from these scammers, tell them to go f t… an to never call you again.
well….Remember this!!!! If they want to get in the 7 pack for their Industry they need to have someone who knows maps or they will never ever show up! If you look at the bottom of the 7 pack local listing you will see a link that says more listings….There are usually hundreds if not thousands on listings that NEVER make the first page 7 pack! So, I would rather have someone who knows maps optimize it for me so I make sure i get on the forst page 7 pack! So it’s not a scam in that sense…
Bob I do agree with some of what you said. You should have someone who knows maps help you get your listing optimized. After that, I just don’t see why you would ever need to keeping paying ongoing management fees if the information is honest and true.
Be careful you don’t get hung up on a guarantee. Google could care less if you paid someone to help rank a listing. They rank who they rank based on several factors, and are making strides to keep the blackhat stuff out.
Nice post Kevin! Thanks for the insights and good laughs. I must say that as much as I despise these Google map listing abusers, there is a place in the market for legitimate map optimization.
Being indexed on Google is free just as a Google map listing is also free, but a free index in Google (everyone gets one) doesn’t necessarily translate to number one organic ranking without a degree of promotion. In fact, that’s why you and I have jobs. That is a function of SEO as it relates to Google’s free index and it is also a function of legitimate map optimization techniques to promote Google’s free local map listings.
Just yesterday I wrote a similar piece ripping map position peddlers, but the fact that map positions are quite valuable in many instances. As SEO optimizes Google’s free index, map optimization is certainly a legit discipline if one studies ranking factors that fall within Google’s Quality Guidelines.
That being said, these morons that are burying unwitting business owners in Google penalties due to SPAMMY tactics need to be exposed. Great stuff, thanks again.