At Prospect Genius, we’ve spent years and years perfecting our online advertising services and adapting them to meet Google’s changing standards. We do this so we can provide the most effective advertising possible and produce satisfying results. However, our efforts can only take a client so far if that client is doing things that are inadvertently sabotaging their online advertising campaign and web presence. To keep your campaign successful, stay on Google’s good side by avoiding these three behaviors at all costs.
1. Duplicating Content
Having duplicate content on your website is a major crime in Google’s world. If your site contains content that’s been copyrighted to another company, you have duplicate content. This is in direct violation of Google’s guidelines. Google’s bots are constantly indexing and scanning through webpages, and sooner or later, they’ll detect that your content is identical to someone else’s. When they do, Google will decide which page is the original source; the other page, presumed plagiarized, will be removed from Google’s index, never to be shown to users. So while it may seem like you’re taking a shortcut by “borrowing” someone else’s content—or content that was written by an advertiser like Prospect Genius—you’re actually creating a situation where the duplicated pages will never rank for any search. Obviously, this will do serious damage to your web presence in the long run.
2. Using Fake Addresses
Some business owners think they can get away with using a fake address on their Google My Business listing. In doing so, real businesses are trying to put themselves in prime locations for local SEO, while shady businesses without a physical location are making up addresses out of thin air to seem legitimate. Regardless of your motivation, if you use a fake address on your Google My Business listing, you will be caught. That’s because Google has a variety of tools, including cars and satellites, used to verify that businesses are actually located where they claim to be. When Google discovers that your business is not at the location listed, you’ll be slapped with a hefty penalty. Your listing will plummet in ranking or it might be suspended completely. It’s a much safer bet to just stick with your real address. In fact, in 95% of cases, business owners will get good rankings just by following the rules. That means using a fake address is not only risky, but it’s also unnecessary.
3. Hiding Information
Some business owners have a tendency to hold their cards close to their chests. They’ve learned from years of competition that they don’t want people having access to sensitive information about their businesses. Fair enough—but this behavior does not mesh well with Prospect Genius’s online advertising services. When you hire us and don’t give us a full history of your web presence or you lock us out of key resources like your Google My Business listing, you’re stunting your own advertising efforts. We not only need to make sure your Google listing is working in harmony with the other work you’re paying us to do, but we also need to know where else your business is listed and what types of behaviors you’ve engaged in previously. For example, if you have a history of bending, breaking, or ignoring Google’s policies, or you worked with a different advertiser before hiring us, we need to know. If there’s something in your history that you don’t tell us, then we might end up making matters worse by spreading conflicting information about your business. (And as you know, Google despises conflicting information.) When you hide this kind of crucial information from us, it’s like hiding the level from your kitchen renovation contractor. Sure, they’ll be able to get the job done without it, but all of your cabinets are going to be wonky and crooked, and your kitchen might end up being unusable. You’re essentially hiring someone to do a job for you and then taking away their ability to do that job effectively. Simply put, you’re wasting your own money.
Conclusion: Don’t Lie
That’s the general rule when you want to stay out of trouble online. Don’t lie to Google. Don’t lie to your advertiser. Don’t lie to your customers. Just don’t do it. It may seem like a simple white lie, but Google’s punishments don’t always fit the crime. You have no way of predicting or controlling the consequences. Google might delete all of your reviews, penalize your rankings, suspend your listing, or even mark your business as “closed.” The potential consequences simply aren’t worth the gamble. Help yourself and your web presence by remaining honest at all times.