Scam Alert: Don’t fall for “Update your Google Listing” telemarketing calls!

Many of these listings are paid -- do you know which ones?
Many of these listings are paid — do you know which ones?

Some of my clients are getting calls several times a week: “Update your free Google Listing…” It’s really frustrating for them because I have already updated and optimized their stuff.

The caller will make it sound like they are from Google by saying they are a Google Partner, or that they are calling from the Google Verification Department. They especially like targeting people in construction trades, but I get them too.

The only times I have gotten legit telephone calls from Google are:

  1. When we are updating a business listing and Google calls with a PIN code (this is immediately after I hit the SUBMIT button, and I always warn my client that it’s coming).
  2. Once we were updating a clients’ listing and his address was funky (they all are in Van Alstyne because they renumbered the addresses for 911) and a human from Google called to verify the address. These calls are VERY important or they may delete your listing. If you are unsure it’s really Google, ask for a call back number or just tell them your address — NOTHING MORE.
  3. When I was buying Google AdWords (pay-per-click advertising) for my a retail site, my account manager called me from Google. Again, if you are not doing paid advertising with Google already, Google would not be cold-calling you to sell it.

Google usually calls from a 650 phone number, but scammers do cloak phone numbers, so don’t rely on this and never give out account information over the phone. If it’s really Google, they will have it! Also if Google does call you, they don’t ring your phone off the hook at all hours like these scammers.

Speaking of paid advertising with Google (AdWords): (This is important, people….)

One time as an experiment, I worked with a third party who re-sold Google advertising and claimed they could optimize it, measure it for me, etc. I thought they might do a better job managing it than I could (this was for my own retail business — I was already spending over $1K/mo. on AdWords and thought this vendor might help my clients, too, if they could help me).

I ended up spending a lot more $ on my AdWords … and my traffic actually went down. And this vendor was from the Dallas area — a local person whom I met face-to-face (twice!) who did business with another well-known business in town, not some random person calling from India!  It was still a scam and a ripoff. 

It goes without saying that if a Search Engine Optimization Company (SEO) is misleading you right off the bat, you might not want to do business with them.

And I will say it again — if someone promises they can get you on the first page of Google, they are lying. The exception is if you outbid everyone else for paid advertising and you will blow through four figures per month doing this. For some, the ROI is worth it, but please either work with Google directly or work with someone trustworthy.

If you work with an unethical SEO company, your site will lose traffic and you could be blacklisted by Google. It can take years to recover. It even happens to big companies like JCPenney!

How can I stop it?

  1. Report the caller to the FCC. 
  2. It’s easy to block the numbers using your cell phone.  I don’t know how to block them on landline phones, but contact your phone company to see if there are any options.

There are no quick fixes in life and SEO is no exception. Please feel free to contact us if you have any concerns.