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Negative SEO alert

There’s a new malicious SEO tactic making the rounds and your Google My Business listings could easily be the victim, according to web security company Sucuri. The company says individuals are sneaking inappropriate or damaging photos into GMB listings with the intent of damaging a business’s reputation and image.

What makes this type of exploit unique, however, is that it doesn’t take any hacking skills to do. Unlike other negative SEO tactics, this specific technique does not include hosting images on a client server, malicious code, or even breaking into an account.

Ultimately, the attack is taking advantage of Google’s lax rules for uploading photos to a business’s location in Google Maps. Anyone can upload images to a business’s listing, and any of these images can be used for Knowledge Graph data about the business.

While Sucuri doesn’t have evidence of this, it is possible for a person to spam a business’s listing with lewd images and then send fake hits to them to increase their perceived popularity – all with the end goal of making sure they come up when people see your business online.

How to Protect Your Listings

Unfortunately, the nature of this type of attack makes it difficult to guard against. There is no way to limit who can upload photos to your listings or determine which image gets used in Knowledge Graphs. The best you can really do is to actively keep an eye on your listings and which photos are appearing next to your listings.

You can also watch to make sure no one is uploading inappropriate pictures to your Google My Business photos. While you can’t stop people from uploading lewd images, you can easily remove any associated with your location.

They say word-of-mouth is the best advertising a business can have. The same could also be said for the online version of this: user reviews. There are few better ways your company can earn the trust of potential customers than showing how much other customers have enjoyed your services or products.

Now, Google is giving an even bigger platform to user-generated business reviews by adding “Reviews from the web” to its Knowledge Panels that appear in search results. This comes a month after Google started including best-of lists and critic reviews in results for local search.

local-reviews-google

Source: Google

Consumer reviews will appear in the Knowledge Panel exactly as critic reviews do, but they will be more visible on mobile where they appear before both critic reviews and best-of-lists. You can see how they will appear in the screenshots above and below:

localsearch-1

Source: Google

If you want to feature user-generated reviews from your site or another prominent review site, you need to mark up your content with Google’s review Schema. You must also abide by Google’s guidelines for inclusion.

Including the new “Reviews from the web” section, Google’s Knowledge Boxes are now prominently displaying three review sources. It will still be collecting and highlighting its own reviews, making it more important than ever for businesses to have a strategy to collect reviews from customers across a wide range of platforms.

Thanks to the increased profile of user reviews, it has never been easier for your customers to spread the word about your business to thousands of potential customers every day.