Beyond White and Black Hats – Take Control With Cop Hat SEO
4 Minute Read
You’re probably familiar with the term Black Hat SEO – the practice of using shady tactics and violating a search engine’s terms of service in order to rank better. But what happens when your business commits to White Hat SEO practices only to see cheaters ranking above you? Do you have to sit back and take it?
Hell no. When you need to get tough, take off the white hat and put on your cop hat. Because in the realm of Google Business Profiles, snitches get riches.
Cheaters Only Win If You Let Them
We all know that ranking in Google’s Local Pack is key to any company’s success. When you are in the top three, your website dominates search and gets all the clicks. As powerful as ranking in the local pack is, it really only relies on a couple of factors: the longitude and latitude of the search results and the company name in the Google Business Profile listing.
While it’s more difficult (but not impossible) to cheat a company location, it’s very easy for businesses to cheat the company name in their Google Business Profile listings to steal some search results.
Let’s take a law firm, for example: Bull & Crap, LLC. Although the firm’s website, business cards, stationery, and REGISTERED NAME all say Bull & Crap, LLC, the name on the firm’s Google Business Profile reads: “Bull & Crap, LLC | Personal Injury Lawyer | Bluff, Alaska”.
Only the first 16 characters of that listing name are true. The rest is some bovine feces.
You don’t have to let businesses get away with tweaking their names and stealing your rightful clicks. You can bust them. Well … you can log into your Google Business Profile account and “suggest” a name change. Nine times out of ten, Google will accept the suggestion. This is very good for you.
Ratting Out Swindlers Offers Two Huge Benefits
Pull up your competitors’ Google Business Profiles. Do they claim to be open 24 hours when you know the only thing working after 5 pm is their answering machine? Suggest they’re open from 8-5.
Do they shoehorn geo-targeted keywords into their company name when you know their actual business name is short and sweet? Suggest removing the SEO-rich wording that isn’t part of their actual name.
We aren’t suggesting you lie to sabotage your competitors; we recommend that you use the truth to stick it to them. It’s the right thing to do, and it helps you in two big ways.
Cop Hat SEO Benefit #1: It Knocks Your Competitors Down a Peg
If you play by the rules (or if you haven’t been caught yet), there’s no reason why other businesses should be able to gain an advantage on you simply because they cheat. It’s one thing to rank high in search because of your killer SEO tactics, it’s another to rule the Local Pack on a throne of lies.
By suggesting nothing more than the truth to Google about your competitors, it levels the playing field for everyone. And when your competition gets knocked down, it gives you the opportunity to move up.
Cop Hat SEO Benefit #2: It Boosts Your Google Local Guide Status
In case you haven’t noticed, Google likes to outsource its labor (for free) whenever it can. That means you. It relies on crowdsourcing to keep Search and Maps updated with current information about businesses, places, and local attractions.
These unpaid workers are called Local Guides. Although the pay sucks, the benefits aren’t bad. As a Local Guide, you earn points for every contribution you make, whether you write a review (10 points), rate a business, (1 point), respond to Q&As (3 points), or suggest edits to your snake-in-the-grass competitors’ business profiles (5 points).
As you build up points, you reach higher levels in the Local Guides program. The more points you have, the more trustworthy you will be in Google’s eyes. And the more you can narc out other dirty liars.
There’s another big perk to being a high-ranking Local Guide. If your business receives a bad Google review, you can report the review under your Local Guide profile and increase your chances of having the bad review taken down. You could get drunk on that kind of power.
Read More: How Reviews Positively Impact SEO
Cop It Up Some More by Policing Your Backlink Border
If you were a baddy, you could just buy a couple million toxic backlinks for $200 and point them at your competitor’s website to have the whole thing crash in a burning pile of Viagra ads and oh-my-god-why-mes. Of course, you would never do that, but how do you know your competitors won’t? You don’t. The best thing you can do is keep a close and constant eye on your own backlinks.
While you’re monitoring your backlinks, don’t forget to check in on your Google Business Profile to make sure no one else’s suggestions are altering the information you’ve provided. Someone else could be causing changes that aren’t true or beneficial to your business.