SEO News You Can Use: Google Initiates Lawsuit Against Fraudulent Company Guaranteeing First-Page Rankings

SEO News you can use

A business known as G Verifier has been offering fake reviews and page one rankings and charging business owners fees for free Google Business profiles (GBP).

G verifier, allegedly owned by Kaushal Patel, had threatened to pay a fee (around $99) or risk their Google Business listings being deactivated or permanently closed. Businesses were also informed positive reviews would be hidden, risking a loss in visibility and rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs) and, ultimately, revenue.

Search Engine Land stated that hundreds of existing GBP users had reported this scam since December 2021, and Google is proactively taking action.

Google announced the lawsuit in its blog, The Keyword, on November 29, 2022, stating that it violates its policies regarding deceptive content. Google is continually committed to tackling fraud and malicious activities online. (Google Lawsuit

According to SERoundtable, Google has already prevented over 12 million attempts to create fake Google Business accounts and over 8 million attempts to steal GBPs from existing business owners.

Google has also provided some tips to help businesses avoid becoming a victim to scammers, including doing research before agreeing to any services, and if what is being offered sounds too good to be true, it’s more than likely that it is.

This is not the first time someone has tried to impersonate Google, and it most certainly will not be the last. 

So if you suspect you are a victim of or have been approached by a fraudulent company claiming to represent Google, you can report their activity to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or file a formal complaint at www.donotcall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222.

More SEO News You Can Use

Ex-Googler Offers Insights on Google Search and Featured Snippets: Ex-Googler Marissa Mayer recently provided some interesting answers to questions pertaining to the growing concern regarding the apparent drop in the quality of Google Search results. Mayer, who was heavily involved in Google Search, Images, Local, Location Services, Maps, Gmail and Adwords, said that it’s not Google that’s getting worse, but it’s actually the web itself. In a recent Freakonomics podcast, Mayer, now CEO and president of Yahoo, said that factors such as monetary incentives are part of the problem regarding misinformation and clickbait. Instead, Mayer suggests viewing Google as a window to a relatively unregulated space known as the web. Mayer also noted that zero-click features, like featured snippets, are designed to prevent users from clicking to a site by offering answers to search intent for this very reason – to prevent users from being directed to poor-quality websites and make it easier for users to find the answers they’re looking for.

New Google Search Spam Policy Added: On November 21, 2022, Google added a new spam policy, Policy Circumvention. This policy addresses the actions that will be taken should Google find individuals trying to bypass spam prevention policies and republish or redistribute removed or ineligible content. Those who violate Google’s Policy Circumvention policy may expect this content to be restricted or removed. This policy also includes redistributing ineligible content on new or alternative websites as well as other ways to distribute such content. In short, it simply isn’t worth trying to dodge Google content or spam policies, as this could result in your website being removed or dropped in the rankings. For more information on this new policy, visit Search Engine Land here.

New Google Help Document Published Highlighting Notable and Outdated Ranking Systems: new Google help doc has been published, outlining “notable” running systems implemented in the past few years, as well as those that are no longer being used in Google Search. Some notable systems still in use include BERT, MUM, Helpful content system, Exact match domain system, Link analysis systems and PageRank, Original content system, among others. Some of the systems that have been retired include Hummingbird, Page speed system, Mobile-friendly ranking system, Secure site system, Panda system and Penguin system. This help doc is extremely useful as it not only clarifies which major ranking systems are still in use as well as the technologies used to support these core ranking systems but also what each system entails, reported Search Engine Land.

Google Says HTTP/3 Does Not Affect SEO: In the latest Google SEO office hours podcast, John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, along with the Google Search Relation team, clarifies the misconception that a faster HTTP/3 speed directly affects a website’s search engine optimization (SEO). Although there are definitely benefits regarding performance, especially when compared to HTTP/2, for instance, there is no significant impact on ranking performance or web crawling. Mueller did, however, mention that HTTP/3 could have an indirect effect on core web vitals. Although Google doesn’t use HTTP/3 to crawl, there could be positive results for users, which could then positively impact core web vitals. For more insights, visit Search Engine Journal here.

Google Sheds Light on Disavowing Random Links, Thin Content and More: John Mueller and the Google Search Relation team shared their insights on thin content, noindexed pages, disavowing flagged links and the impact of links today compared to previous years. The first question pertains to whether pagination or dividing a long article into various interlinked web pages or articles would be considered ‘thin content’ according to Google’s guidelines. Lizzi Sassman clarified that thin content does not necessarily refer to the quantity of content but rather the value. Therefore, a reduced word count does not necessarily equate to thin content. Then, at the 6:08 minute mark, it was mentioned that backlinks might play a less critical role in the ranking than they did in the past. Although site promotion and links continue to be necessary, the question is how important they will be in years to come as we see a decrease in their ranking role. Mueller also clarified that disavowing all random flagged links could be a waste of time, suggesting that the Link Disavow Tool be used for removing paid links that prove challenging to get removed. The Google Search team also confirmed that noindexed pages have no adverse impact on crawl budget, no matter how many there are, stating that unless you have millions of web pages, there is no need for concern.

Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.

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