Did you know that if a third party is violating any of the Google My Business policies — spamming you or repeatedly calling to solicit your business, for example — you can report them via this special form? The form has been around since May of this year according to the WayBack Machine, but it seems many in the local SEO community are not aware of it.
David Mihm, a respected local SEO, posted about the form yesterday:
What is a third party agency? According to Google a “Third party (3P)” is an authorized agency that manages business information on Google My Business for a business they don’t own. Some examples include a digital marketing agency, a third party SEO/SEM company, an online ordering or scheduling or booking provider, an affiliate network provider.
When should one use this reporting tool? Google says one should use this tool if you cannot work out the issue directly with the third party. Google says “if you are not able to resolve the issue, notify us using the contact options below.” Google said their “team can investigate violation reports and address areas of improvement with the third party directly, if necessary.”
What can one report with this tool? Google offers the following options when reporting issues:
- Third party that is repeatedly calling or making robocalls.
- Third party claimed your Google My Business listing without your consent or by extorting consent from you.
- Third party is misrepresenting its relationship with Google (e.g. they claim to be Google employees or to have an official partnership with Google).
- Third party claims it can guarantee top placement in Google Search or Maps.
- Third party is demanding money to either get your business listed or continue to stay listed on Google. (Note: Third parties are permitted to charge for maintenance services, but Google My Business is a free product and does not require a fee to list your business. )
- Third Party engages in deceptive or harassing marketing and sales practices (e.g. threats of degrading business’s search ranking).
- Third party is not being transparent with clients (e.g. not disclosing management fees, failing to provide aggregated Google My Business performance data).
- Third party is representing your business’s information inaccurately on Google Maps.
Where can I learn more about these policies? Google has a large document explaining all these policies over here. Again, you can use this form to report violations.
Why does it matter? Google Maps and Google My Business has a reputation for being a place that is an easy target for spammers. This reporting tool gives the “good guys” a bit more ammunition to fight back against the “bad guys.” If someone is taking advantage of your business or your client’s business, this is the form you can try to use to get some help from a Google support representative.