I don’t like to bite the hand that feeds and much of my business comes from organic search results but it is important that this gets out there. Google is helping the locksmith scam succeed and getting a cut. They do this through “Google Guaranteed”, a service Google established to make money off of searches for business services.
Google Guaranteed is an advertising service that you pay for. Subscribers will have their ad listed at the top of Google search results. They will pay Google $15-30 every time somebody clicks on one of those ads. How does this affect you though?
If you click on one of those ads you are going to pay at least $15 more than you would pay if you called somebody not paying for these ads. More likely you will pay $100 more because you have to cover all the other clicks of people who didn’t hire the business. It’s much more expensive. Read some of the reviews for the locksmiths in Seattle under Google’s guaranteed businesses. You will see people leaving five star reviews for somebody unlocking their car for $150. A tow truck driver would use the same tool and do the same thing for less than half that.
Maybe the quality of service is worth it, you tell yourself. This business has 100 positive reviews! I’ll let you in on a secret: a lot of those reviews are probably fake. None of my reviews are fake, but I’ve heard for years that people are running review mills in the Philippines, selling reviews for $5 each. Now one of these review mills got ambitious and sent me an offer to write me positive reviews for money!
This is not a revelation to me at all, because the locksmith community is not a very big one. Interestingly I’ve never heard of the majority of these businesses using Google Guaranteed. Sometimes people call me when they’re locked out and tell me that they called somebody from Google Guaranteed who showed up and didn’t know how to unlock their door and they want me to come do it.
The point of all of this is to be distrustful of online reviews, and especially those on google. Yelp reviews are much harder to fake which is interesting since Google is somehow able to identify spam in 99.9% of cases. I would think if they applied their algorithmic magic to their reviews they would be as successful as Yelp but they are making plenty of money with these companies using fraudulent reviews already, so why change?
Bottom line is whether you are looking to get your carpet cleaned or your locks changed or your fence repaired, get a few quotes and make sure one of them is from a brick and mortar store. Ask a neighbor who has lived locally a few years for recommendations.