Google + Local (Google Places) *SCAM* - A warning to all Warriors.

by 90 comments
I have received SO many PMs and emails about this, I have to speak out.

I know I'm going to tick off many people. There are some big names on the WF promoting these methods... I'm not sure if they even realize what they are doing, but regardless, I'm writing this to save offline consultants from getting caught up in a very big problem that will ruin their reputation, their business and their client's business.

The scam?

Selling leads via fake Google + Local listings.

*Note to clarify* this is not about ranking websites and renting those out. Nothing wrong with that. Absolutely. This is specifically about G+ Local (Google Places listings that are created for lead gen and not for a specific company, named after that company and owned by that company.

Now I spend a lot of time in the Google Local arena - following those experts that regularly communicate with upper management at Google and really KNOW what's going on.

Here's a fact: Google knows about fake listings and they are very diligent in removing


Here's another fact... it's EASY to spot these fake listings!

If I'm working for you, I'm going to report your competitor if they're posting fake reviews or have a fake listing. Anything FAKE, I'm going to report, because then I'm keeping the listings clean and I'm doing a better job for you.

Believe me... I'm not the only one willing to do this for a client.

But why have these scams been so widely perpetuated?

In my opinion... greed.

And here's where I'm going to get myself into trouble... from what I can see, these methods are being taught by those selling the software or WSOs to support this method of doing business.

Do these methods work?

Perhaps... but not for long. I promise you that. But here's the greater danger:

Let's say you work hard to rank one of these fake listings and then you start seeing the call volume pick up.

You hit the phone like mad to find a business to sell the leads to. Of course, you're probably going to find someone, but here are the problems:

1) You've already set yourself up as someone that does not do things by the book. If you find a business owner that doesn't care... you have to ask if that is the sort of company you want to do business with.

Any business owner that doesn't know any better is obviously trusting you, the expert, to do the right thing. And of course... you're violating that trust.

2) You could wake up one day and your account is banned. Poof - there goes your income stream. Google and the REAL experts working in the field are very diligent in removing fake listings and even those listings with fake reviews.

3) It would not be difficult for Google to find out who's collecting the leads. This could lead to their business being blacklisted.

It would also be easy for a competitor to find out who's stealing all their business. They need only report the listing to get your client banned. So you've now put an ignorant business person (who trusted you) at risk. I would imagine this could open you up to a lawsuit, as well.

Imagine your business client is a member of the Chamber of Commerce or BBB. Their competitor sees what they are doing and makes it known to others in the business world. You've now ruined their reputation. Even if they
manage to convince people they didn't know any better... the damage has been done.

Your reputation is then ruined as well. Good luck getting any more business in your area.

In the end, this is what it boils down to:

- You're building a business on a foundation of deception and trickery. This business is an unsustainable

business that puts your clients at serious risk.

See the scam for what it is... you're buying information from people that don't even work in the field and you've become a hapless victim.

Stay FAR away from leasing fake listings, creating listings without a real business address, and from posting reviews on behalf of a client.

There are too many legitimate ways to help people with G+ Local and get them ranked. There's no need to resort to these other methods.

I hope this helps some people.
#offline marketing #google #local #places #scam #warning #warriors
  • Profile picture of the author vndnbrgj
    I know exactly what and who you are talking about.
    I completely agree with you.
    Thanks for bringing this to the fore front for others!
  • Profile picture of the author Jubu
    I don't know 100% what you are referring to. Is it like making a general plumbing site and then selling the leads?

    If it's like that then I don't think there's an issue.

    But are you saying they make a fake Google Place and then make fake reviews of that place? That is pretty bad if so. I'm sure there's some liability there especially if it's for attorneys.
  • Profile picture of the author Kung Fu Backlinks
    I'm trying hard not to be too specific... as there are many people promoting these methods. I'm not singling out any one person or group.

    But people in this forum need to know what to watch out for. I get so many emails and PMs about this method... We all invest time, money and energy into building a great business, and there's nothing worse than investing all of that into a business model that is nothing but hype and deception.

    And I wrote up a clarifying statement above... this isn't about site rental. Nothing wrong with that at all. If you want to do lead gen, do it with a website, not with a Google + Local listing where the rules against such a thing are so explicit.
  • Profile picture of the author murphyslaw
    Gotta watch for this then. Thanks for the heads up!
  • Profile picture of the author maxrezn
    And this is why I enjoy you taking my money to take care of this stuff for my clients.
  • Profile picture of the author mcfcok
    I bought a course on this method a while back, being new to offline marketing I jumped in and bought the course.... feel somewhat cheated now.
  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Thanks for posting about this as I've never supported using fake Google Places/Local listings to make money and you are 100% right. Now have I done fake listings? Yes I did in the past, in order to test a method for ranking before using it with real clients.

    Ranking a web site in the organics to sell leads is one thing, turning around and creating a FAKE Local plus listing to go with it in order to rank and sell leads is as you said, against Google's Terms of service.
  • Profile picture of the author SirThomas
    Originally Posted by Kung Fu Backlinks View Post

    Here's a fact: Google knows about fake listings and they are very diligent in removing

    As much as I agree with your opinion on fake listings, I have to disagree on how "diligent" Google is in removing them... I've seen too many situations where a company with only ONE real location has multiple map listings, yet Google refused (or didn't get to it...) to remove those extra listings, even after complains from the competition...

  • Profile picture of the author trieuphu
  • Profile picture of the author Kung Fu Backlinks
    @Max LOL my pleasure

    @mcfcok - I'd get my money back.

    @Rus - Glad you agree. I know you are on the up and up, and I appreciate you chiming in.

    @SirThomas - that surprises me. Without knowing the specifics, I can't really comment. I will say that listings can be removed but the removal won't be visible for weeks since these sorts of updates are done in a batch and only happen every 4-6 weeks I'd say.
  • Profile picture of the author kcom
    I have one of those so called WSO's, at the time I thought it was a God send. I never did implement it though, after awhile it became to fishy in the smell test. Way too late to get a refund, chock it up to lesson learned.
  • Profile picture of the author betsyanne
    I am glad you shared this with us. I know I have seen some offers here and I think I would have done like kcom, and realized AFTER I spent the money that it was not legal. So I will be checking out every offer carefully.

    So far I have loved every offer I have read or bought. But I have not bought a Google+ offer. Thanks for the heads up!
  • Profile picture of the author Kung Fu Backlinks
    Yeah, the post card verification definitely helps with that. Unfortunately, there are still loop holes that some exploit to create listings without a post card.

    Tricks like that make Google prohibit virtual offices and that ruins it for genuine business owners that have no other option than to use virtual office space because they don't have the budget for anything else and don't want their residential address plastered all over the net as a citation.
  • Profile picture of the author Cay78
    Well said Patrick. I know exactly which WSO's you are talking about. Thanks for the heads up!
  • Profile picture of the author Kung Fu Backlinks
    Thanks, man. I knew the good folks in this part of the forum would rather build a business the right way.
  • Profile picture of the author AussieT
    Yeah bought a couple of the "build a fake GP listing with fake phone number and fake address" type WSO's in the past. Of course you only find that out after you pay your money!
  • Profile picture of the author BreakingRetail
    Offline Marketing Discussions Forum has yet again proved to be a very honest and caring part of WF.

    My partners and I have just finished working on our offline business website, thanks for shedding the light on us in these great times of darkness.

    Thanks again KFB.
    Cheers from Toronto!
  • Profile picture of the author nehadas87
  • Profile picture of the author laracoates28
    Sooo.... Can you actually make fake listings with phone verification still in the UK? I don't really see anything wrong with it if you are providing a business with good leads and helping them stay in business. It seems like a win-win to me!
  • Profile picture of the author Kung Fu Backlinks
    Well... looking at all the possible consequences above, I would hope you could see what is wrong with it. Especially since you can so easily provide this business with more customers by doing things the right way.

    When it's so easy and so lucrative to do things the right way, there's absolutely no good reason to resort to creating fake listings and selling leads to the highest bidder.

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