Google Investigating Local Ad Fraud Affecting Business Pages

Feb 8, 2024 | SEO News Feeds | 0 comments

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Google is looking into concerning reports that some businesses are sabotaging competitors’ Google Business Pages (GBPs) by creating fake Local Service Ads (LSAs) linked to their profiles.

Google Ads Liaison Ginny Marvin acknowledged the tactic on X (formerly Twitter) after Ben Fisher alerted her to a thread on Google’s support forum detailing the destructive scheme.

“This is a brutal new tactic that competitors are doing on LSA,” Fisher explained in his message to Marvin. “A competitor makes a new LSA for a competitor, and because the link to GBP is automatic, the system will essentially nuke the competitor out of existence.”

Unfair Play In Online Advertising

A Google support forum thread outlines how one business’s long-standing LSA account suddenly stopped generating leads and referrals after a decade of operation.

When the owner contacted Google’s support team, he was informed that a second unknown LSA account had been created and linked to the company’s Google Business Page, effectively hiding the legitimate ads from public view.

However, the owner maintained that he had only ever created one LSA account and had no knowledge of the mysterious second account.

Google advised completely deleting his original account and reviews and starting over with a brand new Business Page.

This suggestion was, understandably, met with dismay by the business owner, who questioned the fairness of the situation.

“Why would an unknown entity get to force us off of our own Google listing?” the frustrated owner wrote. “There must be a way where we can re-verify our account and eliminate any LSA’s we don’t approve of.”

Google’s Response To The Emerging Threat

Acknowledging the gravity of the situation, Marvin responded to Fisher’s alert, stating: “Thanks for flagging, I’m sharing with the team.”

This acknowledgment indicates that Google is now aware of the exploit and suggests that steps may be taken to address this loophole in the LSA system.

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Implications For The Search Marketing Community

This tactic of faking competitor ads to sink Google Business Pages is an alarming new potential threat.

Google linking LSAs automatically provides an opening for abuse, and time will tell if the company can find a solution.

As the search marketing community waits for Google to address the issue, this incident is an eye-opening reminder of extremes some will take to hinder competition.

For now, businesses are advised to carefully monitor their Google Business Profiles and swiftly report any abnormalities.

Featured Image: Vladimka production/Shutterstock

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