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

I first published this article in 2014. It’s been our most popular, and I have updated it with some new solutions.

example of Google local search
The only way to get to the top of Google search is to pay for it.

Some of my clients are getting calls several times a week: “Update your free Google Listing…” It’s 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). More often, Google verifies with postcards.
  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. Just tell them your address — nothing more — just in case it’s not Google. This was several years ago – I am unsure if Google still calls people.
  3. When I was buying Google AdWords (pay-per-click advertising) for my retail site, my account manager called 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 and even make the Caller ID read “Google.” Don’t rely on Caller ID, and never give out account information over the phone. If it’s genuinely 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):

When I had an online retail store, 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 (I was already spending over $1K/mo. on AdWords for this business and thought this vendor might help my clients, too, if they could help me).

I ended up spending a lot more $ on my AdWords — yet my traffic 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 reputable shop 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 repeat it — 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 thousands of dollars each 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 Google could blacklist your site. It has even happened 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.  For a more proactive approach than blocking calls as they come in, I recommend AT&T Mobile Security and Call Protect Plus. This mobile app has rules for automatic blocking. Ask your carrier if they have something similar, or try NoMoRobo below.
  3. If you have a VOIP-type landline such as AT&T U-verse, Spectrum, Cox, you can get a service for free that should help. It works with many different carriers:

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