Fake Reviews, Fraudulent Content on Google Maps Leads to Significant SEO Penalties

Google penalizes may websites for implementing black hat SEO practices and fraudulent activity, but a recent blog post on the Google Keyword Blog details how significant these penalties are related to fake reviews and fraudulent content on Google Maps and Google My Business.

Specifically, the blog post states additional enforcement actions by Google beyond website penalties for black hat SEO tactics. The search engine giant is going further with the removal of Google Maps and Business accounts that participate in activities such as adding high volumes of fake reviews, false business NAP information, and fraudulent Google My Business profiles. Dan Pritchett, a Principal Software Engineer for Google Maps, explains that the new enforcement actions help to reduce the actions of financially motivated fraudsters and content vandals that may have a wide range of motives for misleading Maps users:

For example, we have focused efforts on detecting content coming from click farms where fake reviews and ratings are being generated. Through better detection of click farm activity we are making it harder to post fake content cheaply, which ultimately makes it harder for a click farm to sell reviews and make money. And to catch fake business profiles before they appear on Maps, we’ve strengthened our Google My Business verification processes with new machine learning models that help identify fraudulent engagement. By fighting large-scale efforts to create fake business profiles, we’ve stymied millions of attempts from fraudsters aiming to steal customers from legitimate businesses by crowding them out of search results.

The sheer volume of penalties makes a very clear and decisive point: Google admins will not tolerate any fraudulent SEO tactics and impose harsh consequences for anyone found of these activities. A few of the examples provided in the blog post stand out:

  1. “We blocked or removed 55 million policy-violating reviews and nearly 3 million fake Business Profiles. This is 20 million fewer reviews than we removed in 2019 as we saw a drop in the overall number of reviews due to fewer people being out and about during COVID-19.”
  2. “We took down more than 960,000 reviews and more than 300,000 Business Profiles that were reported to us by Google Maps users. This is an increase over 2019 largely due to increased use of automated moderation which complements the manual review of flagged content performed by operators and analysts.”
  3. “We reviewed and removed more than 160 million photos and 3.5 million videos that either violated our policies or were of low quality. For example, thanks to advancements in our automated systems, we’ve significantly improved our detection of photos that were extremely blurry. “

Optimizing Local SEO with Expert Tactics and Solutions

If you are creating your local SEO campaigns with verified backlinks and avoiding the lengthy list of black hat SEO tactics, then you shouldn’t worry about link farming and spam penalties on Google. However, businesses that may have employed previous webmasters or users that potentially utilized poor SEO tactics could impose problems. If previous users participated in link farming, fraudulent Google review spamming, and related tactics you could see a potential loss in local SEO.

The good news is that Boston Web Marketing can help maximize your local SEO potential with expert campaign tactics and industry-proven insights. If you want to hire a professional to maintain and scale your search engine marketing, then contact us today or use our free website audit form, here. 

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