How to Perform a Competitor Snoop/Suggest Edits in Google Maps

no spam

What is a competitor snoop?
There are a lot of spammy businesses out there that Google has somehow overlooked. From time to time, we can identify these businesses and suggest that they remove these places from the local listings. Wendy coined the phrase “competitor snoop” to describe the process of finding competitors that we might be able to get removed from Google Maps and help our clients move up.

When is it time for a competitor snoop?

This is a part of ongoing SEO. In most cases, once our client’s SEO foundation is complete (Website, title tags, and GMB optimized, citations consistent, etc.) they will rise above the spam. However, Google sometimes misses spam and relies on users to improve their maps information. If the client has improved in the organic rankings but is still ranking low in the local pack, we may be able to suggest an edit and get the listings above our client’s business outta there!
Sometimes, a client will know about a listing that shouldn’t be there and ask us if there is anything we can do about it. It may or may not be legit, but we should investigate and report back to the client.

Why perform a competitor snoop?
It’s low hanging fruit! It’s relatively quick and easy to spot trouble and suggest an edit in Google Maps. Besides, it’s not fair to legitimate businesses or consumers when the bad guys are rewarded. Here is a great podcast from Bright Local featuring Spam Fighter Extraordinaire, Jason Brown:

Things to keep in mind:
It doesn’t always work, so don’t inform the client unless you are successful.
Success seems to depend on the day, the area, and what’s going on in the Google universe.
Don’t let it become a time sink, look for the obvious.
Try to keep in mind what Google cares about. They won’t remove a business just because you said so.

How to complete a competitor snoop:

1st do an investigation of the client’s address, if it is far outside the city boundary, it’s not worth it to report competitors. Make a note of this in the SEO log.
*Exception: if it is not an extremely competitive area and other businesses outside of the city are ranking in the local pack, then it may be worth the time.

Search the client’s primary keyword in an incognito window and look at the local listings (

Look at competitors that rank ABOVE the client’s business.

Things to look for at first glance:

No reviews?
No website?
Business name spam? ( keywords as business name, e.g.)

Take a closer look:

Is the business listing claimed?
Does the website look legit? (info matches, not one of a million service area pages e.g.)
Does the address look legit? (virtual office? UPS? etc.)

Is the category accurate?



If you feel like the biz is not really what they say they are, then you can suggest an edit:

Log in to

Type in the biz name and city

In the listing, click on “suggest an edit”

Chose “remove listing”

Select a reason, pick the option that makes the most sense (usually “never existed”)


Choose “ change name or other details”

This option should be used in the business name is inaccurate. For instance, if the Business Profile shows the name of the business as “Carpet Cleaning Springfield” and the business name is actually “Joe’s Carpet Cleaning” Type the real name in and hit send. The same goes for the category.

If you can use an image, do so, but it must be an actual photo that you’ve captured. A screenshot will not be read.

Create a task in Asana in the Google Maps/Competitor Snoops project, include the competitor biz name and the Client’s name. Add a due date to follow up a week later.

You may or may not receive a communication from Google that your edit is under review. The process and communication from Google can be very inconsistent.
Keep track of email communication and record in the Asana task.

You can see the status of your edits in your user profile in Google Maps. If you see that your edit was approved or not applied, move the task to the completed/results section in Asana and record in the client’s SEO log.


If your edit is not applied and you feel that it warrants further action, you can submit a redressal form to Google. (need wiki)