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The #1 Book Every Local SEO Needs to Read

How to Spam Google MapsAfter reading the recent article in the New York Times about locksmith spam, I decided to download Bryan Seely’s book Cyber Fraud: The Web of Lies. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Bryan, he’s the one who made headlines for putting Edward Snowden in the White House on Google Maps and creating a fake listing for the Secret Service and intercepting phone calls.

In the book, Bryan actually divulges how he did it and what tactics can be used via Google My Business (GMB) and Google MapMaker to spam and create fake listings that actually rank on Google.

Here are just some things I learned reading his book:

  • The real victims of spam are the many business owners who are suffering because they are being outranked by fake listings.
  • What the spammers do is not just unethical, it is often illegal
  • Phone numbers associated with spam can actually be blacklisted from creating new listings.
  • Reviews really do help to rank in the 3-pack – review spam does too
  • Yelp’s annoying filters that we all complain about actually makes them the most spam-free directory out there.


The sad realization is that spammers are smarter than many of us in this industry. They know more about the ins and outs of ranking on Google Maps because they are willing to test boundaries.  They want to do the bare minimum necessary to rank and will test different strategies to see what will get them ranking fastest.

The one thing they do not (or should not) have on their side is longevity.  I always encourage people out there to report spammy competitors and think this is a very under-utilized tactic in this industry. I often see people complaining about spam outranking their clients but they don’t realize there is a way to get rid of it. Sometimes I have to send several reports to Google but almost every time I’ve run across spam, I’ve been successful in getting it removed.  Hopefully reading Bryan’s book will help you want to join in the effort to eliminate spam!

You can currently get this book on Amazon for $14.99. I’m in no way affiliated with the author or book but found it so enlightening that I felt the need to share.

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thanks for posting the link Joy! I saw the book was out of print on amazon… pity, I’d rather read a paper copy, but at least I’ve got a kindle. Looking forward to cracking into it later today!

  2. Thank you for sharing this Joy. I’ve tended not go after agencies harassing my small business owners and spam ranking above my clients but I realize by being passive I’m just condoning it. It may be extra effort and time but worth it now.

  3. Thanks for the link! I also read the NYT article and was really fascinated and curious to know what he did (even though it was probably all black hat stuff and probably old by this point.) I was also interested in reading this book, but could not find out where to get it.

  4. Incredible read, only read it in 2 parts because I literally fell asleep (started reading it at bed-time thinking it’d be rather dry or hard to read. WRONG!)
    Interesting that his book, website, etc seem to all be removed, and his online profile has gone fairly quiet. Hopefully this is been because he’s had a level of success…

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