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.
*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 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.