Getting Aggressive: Google Sues SEO Firm Making Specious Robocalls
September 16, 2015 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
There are a lot of marketing scams out there directed to local business owners. Many of them try to motivate people to buy digital listings products or marketing services based on fear or fraudulent information. Some of them take the form of automated calls or “robocalls.”
As Google indicates in a blog post SMBs will often receive automated pitches that invoke the company’s name and go something like this:
“It’s extremely urgent that we speak to the business owner! We’ve tried to reach you numerous times. Our records indicate that your Google Business Listing has not been claimed…”
Most of these robocalls are illegal. But very often there’s a human on the other end too, preying upon the ignorance of small business owners.
Google points out several things that business owners and recipients of sales-related robocalls can do:
Without naming the specific offending firm Google also said that it was filing a lawsuit to stop the practice:
Today we’re filing an action in California against one search engine optimization company for making these robocalls and confusing our users. It’s unfortunate when a problem must be addressed in a court of law, but we believe this course of action will protect our users and discourage this practice more broadly.
This is probably the first and a set of more aggressive steps that Google will be taking to protect small business owners from fraud, misrepresentation or other specious marketing claims.
The LSA is also considering ways that it can help bring more credibility and ethical accountability to the local marketplace and those that deliver marketing services to SMBs. We’re in the process of debating different ideas, but we’re also open to your input and thoughts on these issues.
Update: Mike Blumenthal obtained a copy of the complaint (I’ve embedded below) and has identified the defendant: Local Lighthouse, based in Southern California. They have a 1.8 star rating from Google reviewers: