When you type in a search for a local service or product in Google, you would expect to see a list of various providers in the area returned in the search results. Sometimes, however, these results are hijacked or tainted by spammy looking local listings, which can cause issues for the other, legitimate, local businesses.

Some spam listings not only dilute the search results, but can also completely change the type of results that Google displays. If Google feels a particular search is a ‘branded’ term, such as a company’s name, it will return results focused more towards that particular company, such as it’s website with the corresponding G+ Local listing information attached to it and other relevant pages about that company below it (such as its LinkedIn or Facebook page or YellowPages or BBB listing.)

For example, for a search such as ‘Hotels in Asheville, NC’, instead of Google returning a larger list of local hotels in the search results, a spam G+ Local listing caused Google to return only one branded hotel result.

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The culprit was a sneaky listing where the actual G+ Local listing’s name was called ‘Hotels in Asheville’. The listing contained all the contact info for a specific hotel in that city. The underlying Google Map Maker POI  included phone numbers, fax, website as well as alternative business names and sub-categories which included other spammy local hotel keyword phrases. In addition to this spam listing, the hotel already had a proper listing of its own.

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How to Remove Spam Google Plus Local Listings and Google Map Maker POIs.

I worked together with a fellow ‘local SEO’ consultant, Ben Golson, to get this listing, which violates Google’s guidelines, removed from both G+ and Google Maps.

I’m sure the Google Local listing that was in violation could have been reported to Google via their reporting systems, but I chose to go the route of getting the listing taken down via it’s corresponding Google Map Maker (GMM) point of interest (POI).

I located the GMM POI in Google Mapmaker and chose to ‘edit’ the details. I chose the option to delete the POI with the reason being that it was spam. After the edit was reviewed and approved by an official reviewer, the POI was deleted. and the place subsequently removed from the map.

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When a POI is removed from Google Mapmaker, it its corresponding G+ Local page is also deleted.

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Original Google+ Local page

The original Google Plus page URL then throws a 404 error because the page no longer exists on Google.com.

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Google+ Local page deleted for being spam (404 error)

Once the G+ Local listing was deleted, the search results returned back to their ‘normal’ carousel results. The Google SERPS now act as they normally should for a local keyword phrase search for hotels in a city. Google no longer thinks that the query is a branded result and, instead of just ‘one’ suitable result, it shows a list of hotels.

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Proper Google search results (no spam G+ Listing hijacking the listings)

If you need help to get your listings to show up in Google or if you are dealing the side effects of spam listings from your competitors and need our assistance, contact us now or call us today at (262) 641-2613.