Landing attorney real estate on Google is certainly competitive. This can be expected due to the number of lawyers vying for local search leads in a specific location. However, this has led to an ocean of attorney map spam that can be pretty frustrating for lawyers playing by Google’s guidelines.
We have seen this first hand working with law firms in some of the most densely population locations for attorneys. For instance, one of our clients, The May Firm, has a location in Fresno, California and competes for Google map real estate among dozens of lawyers with similar practice areas.
So when an attorney is spamming Google maps to get a leg up, our clients want to know how we can take it to them in order to level the online playing field. There are several legal marketing tactics we can employ depending on the spam offense committed. Let’s take a deeper look at two of the most common attorney map spam offenses and what you can do to fight back!
This one is definitely among the most common of all attorney map spam offenses. According to Google guidelines for business listings, a business name needs to be aligned with the signage, marketing verbiage, etc. as Google explains very clearly.
But law firms that know how to game the system, or marketing and SEO agencies they hire, are throwing these guidelines completely out the window. Instead, attorney map spam for a business name will be keyword stuffed to maximize online visibility.
For example, a personal injury law firm that is located in Fresno may use a spammy business name like “Personal Injury Accident Lawyer, Car Accidents, Trucking Accidents, Fresno, California” when their real business name should be “Smith, Thompson, & Johnson.”
A quick Google search of “lawyers in Miami” led to an immediate attorney map spam offender.
This is business name is keyword stuffed to the max. When going to the law firms website, you’ll see that the actual business name is just “CP Law Firm.”
Now this doesn’t mean that the law firm is in any way not great. They are just committing a very common attorney map spam offense. The attorneys may not even know this is happening, since many law firms hire legal marketing agencies to do this type of local search optimization.
However, the marketing agency this particular law firm is using could cause the attorney local listing to get suspended, or even deleted permanently. That could be online suicide for any attorney in a competitive legal market like Miami, Florida.
This is the second most common of all attorney map spam offenses. The ability for lawyers to take up more map real estate in multiple locations in the state they are barred in is very profitable.
For example, let’s say a law firm has a physical location in the city of Miami, Florida. Now competition is pretty fierce in Miami, so they decide to set up Google map listings for surrounding cities like Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Naples, Orlando, and Tampa.
Multiple locations on an attorney website can look like this . . .
This allows them to capitalize on local searches like “accident lawyer near me” or “accident lawyer in Tampa” whereas they would not be able to get those online leads if they were solely located in Miami via Google Maps. Great strategy right?
It is, only it violates Google’s “Address” guidelines. You actually need a physical address. And don’t think a virtual office with suffice, because it is specifically called out by Google.
The use of remote “virtual” locations, location of a friend or family members unrelated business, and sharing an address with other lawyers is spammy and not cool. This attorney map spam offense is a bit more challenging to prove, but with a bit of due diligence and a full tank of gas, you can.
Handling attorney map spam can be challenging, as well as time consuming. The first action any law firm should take is to ensure your own website and Google local listing is not committing any map spam offenses. If you’re going to throw stones, don’t live in a glass house.
The next best step is to not waste your time doing research and trying to change map listings on Google when you should be working on your most likely heavy caseload. That’s what professional legal marketing agencies are for. Just be sure you hire a reputable marketing agency that doesn’t outsource and is committed to delivering top-notch results.
That being said, if you want to take a passive approach to fighting attorney map spam in the communities your law firm serves, here’s what you can do. When you find a spammy map listing on Google, click on the “Suggest an edit” link.
Next, click on the “Change name or other details” section.
Then simply change the information you want to change, like the spammy business name in this case.
Google will review the edits you make and decide whether or not it is a just action, or if you are an angry client or unreasonable competing law firm in the area. It is up to Google in the end, so don’t think your efforts will be rewarded. Sometimes it never gets updated, or it may take a pretty lengthy amount of time to see the changes.
If you find a law firm to be not where they say they are, you can actually request that the listing does not exist. To do this, click on “Suggest an edit” like before, but this time choose “Remove this place” to request the listing be taken down.
You will need to give concrete evidence for Google to take this action. The example law firm in the image is in fact at the location it says, so no action needed here.
When it comes to taking a stand against attorney map spam, you have options. It may take a bit of leg work to clean up the offenders in your community, but it is worth it. With all the law firms playing fair, everyone gets a fighting chance to capture quality leads.
And if you’re not playing by the rules, punishment for spammy lawyer listings on Google can be severe, like suspension or even deletion of your Google My Business account. That could pretty much ruin any law firm — period! Want to know more about how you can fight against map spam in your area? Give us a call.