At PubCon, some guy asked for a site review – turns out he was attempting to spam Google Local. Why he asked for a site review from Matt Cutts is unclear, but I thought I would make his life easier and Google’s a little bit more difficult by putting together a guide to spamming (manipulating) Google Local. All this is purely based on Conjecture. And even if it’s based on more then just conjecture, it’s not something I do anymore, anyway. Note that this is not about hijacking legitimate entries, but rather creating and ranking your own entries.
Why Spam Google Local Search?
A tremendous amount of the traffic online is local, even for terms that have no traditional geographic point of reference. Local is also on a tremendous growth track. While it’s obvious that services offered and provided on the local level, like insurance, tourism, telephony have a lot of local searches, you will often see local traffic on terms relating to finance, retail, and b2b services.
As Google continues to push its onebox in the regular search results, local modifier searches are increasingly dominated by the enhanced one box:
Even searches without a local modifier, but related to local services (hotels, doctors, car rental, etc) will typically return a Onbox:
Google has even begun pushing local hard on core keywords to users that it can geotarget:
In essence, Google Local is the easiest way to rank a new website, and it’s a great way to do CPA arbitrage as well.
What You’re Going to Need
Before we get started with the guide, I recommend you get your hands on the following:
- An Asterisk or Similar VOIP based PBX solution with access to numbers across the country or area you plan on targeting. I suggest you look around for a hosted Asterisk solution.
- A Data Entry Service, preferably cheap and offshore. You can find some on sites like Elance or ScriptLance, or you can ask a blackhat SEO to use his dedicated offshore team.
- A Good dedicated server with at least a few IPs
- Access to postal mail forwarding services is a plus but not required. Usually you can get this at any UPS Store.
- A Cheap Registrar with Bulk Pricing, an API and whois privacy. Godaddy, Moniker and eNom all have APIs.
Google Local Basics
The ranking factors in Google local are fairly simple, and bring back memories of SEO with meta tags and keywords.
Fundamentally, they are:
- Geographic Location
- Business Name
- Business Verification
1. Geographic Location
Google places weight on the proximity of a business to the center of the town or city. So if you’re searching for something in Houston, one of the ranking factors Google will use is proximity to the center of town. How do you determine the center of the town? That’s easy: where the city name is located on the Map, is typically the center of town as Google sees it.
Citations are sort of like links, but not exactly. They’re like links in the sense that they are references to your site, but they don’t require anchor text or even an actual hyperlink to be counted. Typically citations will be your business name, address and phone number, and will usually be found in various types of directories, yellow pages, etc.
Google gets reviews from two sources: Direct from maps and from various partners they pull data from. In non competitive to mildly competitive marketplaces reviews are not that big of a deal, but in competitive verticals it’s a good idea to have some reviews. More on that below.
4. Business Name
If the exact match bonus works for domains, then it also works for business names. So on a search for “locksmith”, if your business is named Locksmith, Inc, it’s certainly going to help the ten pack.
5. Business Verification
Google places a big premium on verifying the listing of a business. This is either done with a telephone call or a piece of mail with a PIN sent to the business address.
Down to Business: Spamming Local
Now that we have a very basic understanding of how Google Maps functions, lets go through the process of ranking a new site, step by step.
Register your domain name. If it’s available an ideal name will be name of keyword + name of location. In the example of the would be Plumber King, the ideal domain would be oaklandplumber.com, or plumberoakland.com. If that’s not available then variations and perhaps more granular geo targeting are the order of the day.
Create a template and database. The template should call variables depending on the domain name. It should be able to rotate out cities, addresses and phone numbers. Most of the other content can stay, but the ability to automatically swipe out locations and location information is critical. I’m not going to go into the technical details of creating a CMS for map spamming, but if you’re not the type then creating a simple spec for someone on RentACoder.com should not be a problem.
Begin assigning local phone numbers via your VOIP PBX to each name, and generating addresses in the center of town for each location you want to rank for. Make sure you can forward all of the local numbers in one click, and keep everything in a spreadsheet or database.
Have your data entry team create a Google account for each domain name. Alternatively you could automate this with something like uBot. After creating the account, enter the business information as defined in the spreadsheet. The name of each business should ideally manage the phrase you’re looking to rank for. If you were targeting local auto insurance keywords, then each of your businesses would be named:
- Auto Insurance Austin
- Auto Insurance Detroit
- Auto Insurance Brooklyn
This is a critical part: make sure to voice verify each and every listing. Forward all the numbers to your data entry team and have them authenticate each entry as they add it to Google Maps. For extra bonus points you can buy real mail forwarding for each address in each town, and also authenticate via post card, but I don’t think this is absolutely necessary.
Once you’ve seeded and authenticated your sites, now is the time to generate citations. All this means is that your data entry team should start seeding your “business information” (Business Name, fake address, URL, anchor text, and VOIP number assigned to the business) in various local directories. There are tons of local directories, but here are some ones off the top of my head:
- Yahoo Local (added benefit of Yahoo local traffic)
- Merchant Circle
- Yellow Pages
- Insider Pages
- Open List
The claim that Reviews make or break a listing are a little far fetched, in my opinion. That being said, with your data entry team it’s not that difficult to have 1 – 2 reviews created on a weekly or daily basis that are a glowing review of your business. You can also seed external review sites that Google uses. Some of the sites used for citations are also trusted by Google for local reviews:
Added bonus: Once you’ve authenticated your phone numbers, you can redirect them to a call center to pick up any leads that come in by phone. A fair amount of people will just pick up the phone, so if you have this ability it’s a good idea.
Go do something else. Ranking in Local takes anywhere from 2 weeks to a few months.
Rank and Profit!
That’s it in a nutshell – Post your comments and thoughts on Google Maps, local search and anything related.
04/29/2010 • This is a late night rant prompted by some half-assed Jeff "Product Launch" Walker promoting something from John Reese. I...Read More
02/01/2010 • Sorry for the lack of posting, life events and projects that actually generate ROI have priority right now. Anyway if you're...Read More
12/28/2009 • I do not take kindly to outsourced phillipino/chinese companies spamming my blog. See (http://www.ariozick.com/how-you-can-spam-google-local-for-fun-and-profit-in-10-easy-steps/#comment-461) Please link to this post with BPovia,...Read More