Google Cautions Against Local SEO Scams
Mike Blumenthal

Update 4/23/15: Google has updated their help file with additional information about these scams:

Local SEO telephone scams claiming to be Google and targeting local businesses continue unabated. The pitch, promising to help fix your listing or rank you number one, ring into small business phone lines with the regularity of Big Ben, hour after hour, year after year. And year after year, there are folks that are taken by this scam or post in the forums asking Google to stop calling them.

I suppose that these boiler room operations are like black flies in an Adirondack summer, but Google has done little to publicly stop them. Today, Google’s newest My Business Community Forum manager Elizabeth Powers has just posted this piece in an effort to provide some education in the matter:

Privacy and safety are of utmost importance at Google. When you have your business information online, this can be even more of a concern.

First and foremost, when you receive your verification code or PIN by mail, please do not share this number with anyone.  It is a unique number generated just for you and your business to confirm that you are actually located at your stated address. Feel free to check out this page on how to get verified, and this page on what to do once you have received your code.

Please remember, Google will never make phone calls offering to improve your ranking or manage your business information. There are many companies out there which would love to manage your local presence, but do know that Google will not be making this type of call to you. Should Google call you, it will typically come from our local area code–a US number beginning in a 650 area code. Additionally, Google would never call asking you for private information like your password. Please find more information on avoiding phone scams here.

Finally, Google My Business offers a variety of privacy controls for your convenience. Some of the more helpful items here would be things like adjusting your notifications and information on post sharing.

Taking the right precautions with your online presence is incredibly important, and we hope that these tips will help you to do just that!  Should you have any questions about privacy (or anything else relating to your Google My Business page), don’t hesitate to contact us for support!

What is your best tip for businesses online with regard to safety and privacy? Feel free to contribute to the discussion and share your knowledge by commenting below!

Update 4/23/15

Google has updated their help file with additional information about these scams:

Phone calls from Google

Unfortunately, not all phone calls from people claiming to be associated with Google are legitimate.

You may receive a phone call from Google to verify your business or confirm business details for Google Maps, or a call from a Google account manager whom you’ve spoken with before.

Google does not:

  • ​charge for inclusion in Google My Business or in Google Search.
  • offer to improve your search ranking or manage your business’s online profile.
  • ask you for your password or verification code. You should never provide sensitive information about your account (like your password and verification code) to a caller.

If you receive a robocall—a call placed with a recorded voice—for any of the above reasons, it is not from Google. The Federal Trade Commission has established a Robocalls resources website with additional information about robocalls and steps you can take if you receive one.

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