Are Your Leads Getting Stolen?
Is your law firm getting overwhelmed with emails and cold calls from lead generation companies trying to sell you local leads? Next time they call, take a moment and ask them where and how they are generating these leads. It is very likely that they are stealing the leads right from under you and selling them back to you at a premium (shady af).
I know this comes as no surprise for all of you, but legal marketing is cut throat. When there is a large amount of money to be made, there are bound to be black hat companies that exploit the system to make a quick buck. That’s exactly what many of these lead generation companies are doing. In a few hours, a company can set up 30+ keyword stuffed Google My Business listings, that without any reviews or even a website, will rank higher than your firm’s listing.
Is It Happening to You?
Take a few minutes and google your practice area and location. You may be shocked to find how many “personal injury law firms” your city has.
Below is a search for a car accident lawyer in Bakersfield CA. As you can clearly see, the entire outskirts of Bakersfield are overrun with these keyword stuffed listings. Google’s algorithm overvalues exact match keywords between the search queries and the name of a listing. This, unfortunately, boosts any listing that keyword stuffs its business name.
The other “secret to success” for these fake listings is that they are located in the neighborhoods and suburbs near the potential clients. Proximity to the searcher is another huge ranking factor and these lead generators are taking full advantage of it.
Keyword stuffed titles and proximity to the searcher allowed these fake listings to take over the entire map. Of the 14 Listings that are visible, 11 of them are fake offices.
What Can Be Done?
Without GMB having a strong vetting process, search marketers are forced into a game of whack a mole, trying to report listings to Google and get them taken down before more pop back up. One issue is that it takes quite a bit of time to escalate these spam offices to Google, validate that it is fake, and then have it removed. The other issue is that in the same amount of time that it takes to burn one listing, one person could create 2 or 3 new listings. This seems to be an endless war. Clearly, Google’s local search algorithm is broken. I hope for my client’s sake (and my sanity) that they come up with a solution soon.
If you would like to take on the task of fighting your local spam, Google has recently made it easier for anyone to report a location. Fill out the “Business Redressal Complaint Form” and work with a Google representative to clean up the map.
If you find your firm surrounded by fake listings and the problem seems too daunting to handle, Mockingbird is happy to help. Give us a call or fill out our contact form and we will do our best to help solve any of your digital marketing problems.
If you’re interested in this topic and wish to learn more there are plenty of awesome resources.
- A post by Joy Hawkins, “The majority of listings for car accident attorneys on Google are fake“
- A Webinar by BrightLocal, “How to Fight Spam and Influence Rankings“
- There is even a fantastic Podcast by Reply All, “Very Quickly to the Drill” that dives into a very similar issue in the Locksmith industry.