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Wednesday, March 9, 2016 Caught Trying to Blackmail Companies Around the USA as "Official Google Partner"


(Keep Reading America!)

-We are NOT TRYING TO SHUT Down.. These are the real facts for all clients of 411Locals The Link to this article written by the national media at SASCON is right above.

At SASCON last week we talked about Negative SEO and the tactics that can disrupt competitors, we carried on that discussion on our radioshow Tuesday. Some of them were funny, some were nasty and others seemed harmless. There are cases however that you are not talking about ‘negative SEO’ anymore, but now a case has come to light which touches closer on extortion than on Negative SEO.

Linda Buquet, a blogger about local and Google Places, yesterday found about a hundred results in Google Places with in the title “Awaiting Removal”. At first it seemed as if they were getting penalized by Google, it turned out to be a company trying to fraud unknowing business in Places.

Buquet found the listing and assumed it was Google who had put the “Awaiting Removal” in there (see example here), maybe as a warning. But it seems highly unlikely that Google would do this public. She checked some of the listings but at first saw nothing wrong with them. In fact, they were all pretty nicely optimized. And they most of them were gathered in the center of the US. She then already figured: “So one thought I had is that these could all be listings from one big agency?”

Buquet didn’t have more time to dive into it so her readers did, and they found some interesting conclusions. The thread (read the comments!) then reads on like a real detective story. It wasn’t Google, it was a company trying to con other companies.

Commenter Kevin Phelps figured it was “a marketing firm that is getting rid of these listings for some unknown reason.”

Commenter “Stever” eventually found the fraud. He found that a company “411 Locals” was the owner of several of the claimed domains. They apparently are threatening companies into removing the places and “offer the .info websites as an option, probably an upsell.

Phelps then actually called some of the agencies:

“I’ve called a few of these people and they’re all telling me that they signed up with a company and the company is threatening to remove the page for non-payment. Some people report the company billing them numerous times though.”

So what has happened here is that unclaimed listings had been claimed by one single company, “411 locals” who then contacted the companies which should have claimed them, offered to handle it for them, sends them invoices and then threatened to delete them. Which means they could not be recovered that easily. 

This is not negative SEO anymore, but pure fraud, blackmail.

According to Buquet Google says they are closing down “a lot of shady local SEO players”, hopefully these will be one of them, also because it is these kind of companies that give the industry a bad name. Google also announced recently it will start to charge for Places, which on the one hand seems a bad thing, but as David Mihm said in our radioshow two weeks ago where we discussed this topic in depth, it will also force Google to actually give some customer support.

The big lesson which can be learned here however is that you need to claim your listings as soon as you can.

Just got a cold call from a company that states they are Google partners and they are certified to do SEO and Local and help small to medium sized companies get ranked on page one of Google. Then the guy directs me to their website where, yes, they are Google Partners and yes, they are A+ members of the BBB. Of course they have had 22 complaints that have been resolved or that the BBB felt they offered a reasonable settlement and the people refused unreasonably.

I am stunned that Google did not realize people were going to do this type of thing and that they were opening a Pandora's box. You could hear that it was a large call center making the call and when I challenged the guy to give me the names of their SEO experts, he kept saying, "They don't take phone calls!" Curious if any of you have reported companies like this and if you felt it changed anything? I reported them to the BBB and to Google, but doubt that anything will happen to their "partner" status. Thoughts?
 Edit: As I researched I found that these guys do a lot of this.   This really makes it worse that the Google Partners program can be so abused. I am surprised Google did not realize this type thing would happen. 

Archive for the ‘ 411 local complaints ’ Category

How your site’s appearance would be influenced if you switch from HTTP to HTTPS?
If by design HTTPS (SSL) is slower than HTTP this wouldn’t hurt your appearance in Google even if the Search machine focuses on the speed. HTTPS is a secure encrypted version of HTTP and is good thing for users if you provide payment system on your site. Google is working on improving the appearance speed when HTTPS.
You don’t need to worry about being penalized because of the speed when HTTPS.
If you want to have a secure site from the beginning it is a good time to switch to HTTPS.
Take care!

Link building using emails

Get links from your users by forcing them to subscribe for your email newsletter.
You can find a lot of different strategies but, here are some tips:
- build your email subscriber list, by having a subscription form on your website. Ask for their name and email. Ask for as little as possible, but ask for their name to personalize their email message;
- send newsletters regularly, but not every day to avoid frustrated users;
- remove the email addresses of these who don’t read their emails as you don’t want to be reported for spam.
- share embeddable content;
- ask for their links after you became into a likeable brand;
Good luck!

Professional keyword mapping

If you had the chance to build a SEO strategy while creating a website or before that, you would appreciate the chance to make it in your way. If your client has a clear idea what he wants to rank for and give you an opportunity to make it as you intend, this will work for sure.
Starting with filling a list of keywords to target, you would continue whit collecting a content based on what people intend, general info about any kw topic, single or multiple keyword page focus. And voila!
You build a content.  Of course you could use already existing website to optimize it with a new strategy if the website owner agree with you (sometimes the man factor is harder problem then a technical one).
I look forward to read your comments!

Improving the ads algorithm

Google is looking for too many ads on your page that distract from the main content.This is not a news actually, it is listed at Google’s list of questions for webmasters.The idea is sites with too many ads to be penalized.Be carefull! Ads may kill your site ranking.The good news is that Google is getting better at communication with webmasters.We also should know that page’s layout is getting more important in the future.
Your comments are welcomed!
Google + for Business is here!

Custom web design vs WordPress

What would you prefer when starting your web site – custom build design or open source platform such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, others?
Do you feel thrill when start everything from zero and transform a customer idea in live project, or you are most likely to choose almost completed web site?
As usual the right answer is : It depends!
And most likely it depends on the needs and price your customer has chosen.  If he/she has very tight budget and can’t afford more than $ 200 lets say, it is better to choose the easiest and fastest low-cost way to build their web site, using WordPress.
If your client manages expanding business, he will need a big, professional and functional web site. Not that you can’t do it with WordPress, but if you are a  professional programmer you can build it yourself, of course for higher price.
It is very easy to have something available that everybody can use (even your child), but I believe it is more responsible and professional to build custom script systems.
Your comment are welcomed!

New SSL implementation from Google

These days Google revealed they are working on secure search, the SSL search, using https:// protocol.
If you are signed in your Google account and make a search query in, your query won’t be accessed at Webmaster tools of people’s sites you are visiting.
But if you are signed out, your query will be viewed. Anyway if you are paying Google you will be able to view the referral information.
Alternative ways for collecting data are still Bing and Yahoo tools.

Local complaints…

Hi, there! Here we have a local complaint about Reach Local web services. From where to begin?
First we start with rude sales person who uses unappropriate words while speaking with future customers. They usually come to your office or house and promise you to optimize your web store or web site for less money than you are now paying to other company if so. They offer 3 months contract for more than $1000 but there aren’t any of the promised results usually. If you start calling them to review your paying plan or you want  a charge back, there isn’t any answer or even worse – they will enjoy the frustration they caused to you and they will laugh at your face.
Please, check other opinions on the web and DO NOT start dealing with them!
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