Among the spammiest areas in Google is the Google Maps search results for locksmiths and plumbers. To mitigate Google Maps spam in these areas, Google is now beta testing a new “advanced verification” process for locksmiths and plumbers in the San Diego region.
In short, locksmiths and plumbers in this region will have to go through a more detailed Google Maps verification process. These businesses have until November 10th to complete the verification process. Failure to do so will result in their listing being removed.
Minimizing Spam in Google Maps Results
According to search industry leader and Mike Blumenthal, “Google is apparently focusing on the types of businesses that are often affected by local business fraud and and ‘make it easier for verified locksmiths and plumbers to be discovered online.'”
In related help document, Google summarizes its efforts by saying:
Google wants to provide useful and comprehensive local listings to people when they search for businesses. Unfortunately, we’ve identified a number of fraudulent local service businesses, including locksmiths and plumbers, who use false identities on Google.
To help reduce fraud and improve the overall experience for you and your customers, we’re now asking businesses to pass an advanced verification process. The process is simple—answer a few questions about your business and complete an application with Google’s third-party verification company.
After passing advanced verification, your business listing will continue to be eligible to appear on Google Maps and the Knowledge Panel.
Google is working with a third party company called Pinkerton to conduct the verification, which according to the latter document, will normally take less than two weeks to complete.
Industry Thought Leaders’ Take
Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable says “I hope this works but it doesn’t seem that scalable for Google Maps.”
Mike Blumenthal also adds his two cents by mentioning “If nothing else it is an arrow across the bow of the spammers. It is also a heads up to the many service area businesses, whether spammer or not, that have figured out ways around the Google verification process. Now we will have to wait and see if there is but one arrow or an armada behind the effort. Because an armada and a fair bit of coin is what it will take.”
At Captivate Local, we too are hopeful that this new initiative will help improve the quality of Google Maps results and minimize spam. It’s seems to be well-aligned with Google’s latest Possum Update, which also focuses on improving the quality of Google Maps listings and removing potentially duplicate, unethical, and/or spammy SEO practices.
However, it’s a bit of long shot and will probably take time before the advanced verification process influences other industries and business categories. But when it does, we can also expect to see other highly spammed industries to be impacted, such as junk car removal, HVAC services, and attorneys.