How to Detect & Report Fake Listings
Spam (fake) business listings on Google are an ongoing problem – always have been and always will be.
The Google Maps system ebbs and flows with how badly the fraudulent listings fill the map. So if you’re wanting to join the army to help fight spam, we have a guide which will give you the resources and guidance to report fake listings on your own.
By reporting fake listings to Google, you’ll be helping your business, your friend’s business, or other customers get accurate information about real businesses in their local area.
Our guide takes a different format to a standard blogpost – we’ve created a board to view or make a copy for yourself. It’s full of hows, where’s and tips for doing the research needed for Google to process your request.
Examples of Google My Business Spam
These images show a variety of fake / spammy Google My Business listings.
Other resources helpful for reporting spam:
- A template for reporting spam listings in bulk
- The Google Business Redressal Complaint Form
- Google My Business guidelines
Tip for the GMB Redressal Form
If you’re reporting listings in bulk using my template or your own variation, you’ll need to attach the spreadsheet in the form. The form has a wee quirk to work around though – the form has to have all fields completed. This means you have to report in detail, one specific listing. You can then attach your spreadsheet of all the listings you want Google to review.
Keep your copy of this sheet.
Tracking Your Spam Reports
Once your form or reports are sent to Google, you’ll get an email confirmation from Google Support. It will have a subject line: Re: [0-2803000030099] Form Submitted (your number will be different.
The number in brackets is your CaseID – a specific internal tracking number relating to your specific report.
- In my case, the confirmation message goes to my “updates” box, not my inbox. Check your junk or spam folders as well if you’re having trouble finding it.
- Don’t bother trying to short-circuit the Business Redressal Complaint form. The email address you get your confirmation from does not take incoming messages.
You won’t get further correspondence from Google about what action is taken (or not), so it will be up to you to check back in a few weeks. Give them a minimum of 2 weeks, during the pandemic it will likely take even longer. Use your copy of the sheet to check each listing.
If you do a lot of spam reporting like I do, you may find a “spreadsheet of the spreadsheets” a handy way to keep track of them all.
If you don’t have sufficient action after a few weeks, report again only the listings needing review. Cite the previous case ID.
If you need to follow up with Google on this report again, use the Community Forum to report your situation. Be sure to add your CaseID’s in the text. From there a Product Expert may be able to escalate to Google for further action, or explain why they believe Google didn’t take action.
I have been working with local businesses as a Local SEO specialist since 2010 and as a Google My Business Product Expert (formerly called Top Contributor) since 2016. I write about GMB suitable for most folks, business owners included.
When not working for clients, I volunteer with the local businesswomen’s network, volunteers on Google’s forum, and the Local Search forum.
Away from the keyboard I’m a very busy mother with two boys, nine chickens, two cows, three sheep, a cockatiel and a stupidly happy dog.
Read more about me on the “about” page!