This is not the first and this is not the only unethical SEO agency that has claimed to be working for Google and guarantees to give your business first page placement in search results.
However, on September 2015 Google finally did it, they filed a lawsuit against Local Lighthouse that performed the actions that I mentioned above. After taking a look at the case, it seems to involve these three issues: false or misleading advertising, trademark infringement and unfair competition.
The SEO industry is full of operators making promises that they don’t plan to keep. Google’s case against Lighthouse is mainly concerning the guarantee of first page placement in Google’s search results. They make these false claims on their website as well. Lighthouse representatives were also introducing themselves as ‘Google Local Listing representatives.’
P.S. Even though Google is prosecuting this case in California, it seems that it is a problem in the UK search results as well.
Local Lighthouse illegally used the Google trademark as part of their selling process to help deceive customers into believing that they have an approved relationship with Google.
In the mean time, Google has been receiving hundreds upon hundreds of complaints – mainly from small business owners that complain about automated calls from businesses that claim to be a part of Google. As you can guess by now, they complain about misleading offers, promotions for improving Google Search and AdWords ranking, all promising to improve their Google My Business profile.
The California court case actually makes specific references to “incessant, unsolicited automated telephone calls” and states that the sales representatives of Local Lighthouse “harassed consumers with unwanted phone calls.”
The UK has already been taking action. Last month, the Information Commissioner fined Called Call Elimination Ltd, a Chichester company a total of £75,000. The company was making illegal cold automated calls in order to sell cold call blocking devices, makes sense right?
Protect yourself. Google does not do this kind of marketing. If you get a call from “Google,” you can be pretty confident that it is a scam. Google makes it very clear on their support form that they do not make automated sales calls, ask you to update your front-page listing or claim your free website or ask you to pay to be included in Google Search or Google My Business.
If you see Google’s trademark being used illegally you can report it here.
Google has created a support document describing the various scams out there and how to report them.