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Local Search Address Spoof, tips tricks, and methods...

Discussion in 'Local SEO' started by Cleverchristopher, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    I love local search and have been messing around with it for years. When I started it was just Google Maps and I watched it switch over to Google's local business center, then to Google Places, to Google+ for business. Validating an address in each city became a game to me and I have done some pretty crazy things to get a Google verified address in my target cities. (Phone numbers are another topic - I use Google Voice numbers when possible and 8X8 as needed.)

    I will post all my gimmicks and tricks here in this thread and would like to hear some other ideas/methods. I have eight methods - number eight being the real deal.

    I have stumbled onto one method that is perfect and repeatable, I will post all my not so perfect methods before I reveal the real thing. As a newbie trying to become valid myself, I need a few thanks, and some positive feedback to get my iTrader score up.
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  2. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #1 Just make up an address.

    In the beginning, the centroid had a huge impact on Local Search ranking, and I would just make up a believable address as close to the centroid as possible. 123 South Main Street, Anytown, ST, 54321. I would use that address everywhere. In the footer on the supporting website. I directory submissions, the support blog, everywhere I could push it out.
    Google Maps was pretty basic, phone verification PIN number and I was in business in a few hours.
    I did all my other devious tricks and I could win just about any local search keyword I wanted.
    For fun I won A through G in one city for my favorite keyword just to see if I could.
    I went on to win the "A" balloon in every professional category I could think of: Architect, Insurance, Realtor, to Veterinary Clinic.

    As I progresses I started using high profile buildings as my address because they came with a ton of free citations. For example, I would choose a historic building or a famous building. I would build tons of mymaps with links back to the main site - "golden times" At one point I controlled a top three search result for some great keywords - I didn't have the best success in selling the site but I could win them.

    These were the days of the ten pack search result and Locksmith spam.
    I still have one of these accounts in Dallas that is making me money
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  3. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #2 Use a real address.

    Pretty boring and still a good method today. Just use the clients home address, a friends address, your accounts/dentist address and have someone watch for the golden post card.

    The down side.....
    It is hard to get close to the centroid (which is still somewhat important)
    It's not the real business address
    If it belonged to another business there was the potential of a messy merge
    I had to promote the address to get my result and there is a loss of privacy
    The real downside...
    If I wanted to operate in a distant city where I don't know anyone I was screwed - this just wasn't a workable option, esspecially in a large metro.

    The upside...
    It is repeatable - if you need to re-validate you can get another Google post card in the future.
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  4. CosmicSoundz

    CosmicSoundz BANNED BANNED

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    subscribed!
     
  5. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #3 Trade for an address.

    This is a painful and difficult method but it does work. Find a new/potential client in your target city. Offer them Local Search for free/reduced price if they will help you validate your other address. This is about twice as much work to achieve your goal but it is cheap and it works.

    Example: I wanted the keyword "Tucson Realtor" and had a referral to an architect in Tucson. I worked for the architect and in exchange she helped me validate my Realtor address.

    The downside...
    This is a lot of work
    Finding the trade client is just about as much work as finding the paying client for the real site.
    It takes a long time
    You are relying on a third party to receive the Google post card who is not invested in the project
    Not 100% repeatable - if you need to re-validate and are not working with the trade client you might have a hard time.
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  6. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #4 Vacant Home

    I have been a licensed Realtor since 1995 and know the business real well. I would do some research and drive around my target area trying to find the perfect target. This is a little shady and at times I felt like a burglar. I'm pretty sure there are some federal post mater laws that are broken here, but this is black hat right?
    Once I found my target - I went to work with my devious plan.

    I didn't think too much about it at the time but the card where all stacked against me.

    I did all the prep work - added the address to my site, blogger, a few business directories etc..
    Applied for a Google business page - pushed submit button (breaking just about every Google user agreement) (fake google account, fake phone number, really fake address, etc...)

    And the mailman wouldn't deliver my stinking postcard!
    If I used the previous occupants name - the post office would forward my post card to them
    If I used the property owners address sometimes I could get past the mailman but for the most part the mailman was the ultimate filter. these mail carriers do the same route every day for years. They know everyone and anything fishy looking ends up in the undeliverable junk pile on the floor at the office or in the back of the mail truck.

    Drat another well conceived plan goes down in flames....
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  7. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #5 the Vacant Business.

    This was the natural progression of the vacant house. It only works in areas where there is a good amount of commercial vacancy but it is a lot more effective than using a residential address. At this point I had learned a lot and was ready to wage war on Google and the mail man. Keep in mind that I had the magic Realtor key and could get inside the office if it was for lease or sale to retrieve my precious Google post card.

    Identify the centroid. For those non-local SEOs out there the centroid is the spot on the map that Google calls the center of a city. If you start on a clean Google maps search and just search a city by name, Google will drop a pin on the centroid. I have never spent enough time trying to figure out what they used to come up with this point of reference and I don't really care. I just know that if you are closer to "it" it helps.

    Trawling - yep I would drive slowly around my target area taking notes of potential offices/store fronts/lofts/warehouses that fit my needs. I would narrow my list to three. This method has a 70% fail rate and I needed three addresses to get one to stick. I had a lot of time on my hands and this was kind of a hobby by now so I was patient and methodical.

    Now I know what it takes to get Google to send me a post card, the problem I needed to solve was getting past the mail man. I chose the best address of the three that I found and I added the address to my footer and the blog and did a few directory submissions. I then applied for a bunch of catalogs with the same business name. I want to start getting mail flowing to the address before I pull the trigger. The mail man knows that this address is vacant - he walks by there every day and he knows exactly when the last tenet moved out. I need to convince him that there's a new tenet coming. Some times as I was checking for my post card I could pick up a name on an old utility bill or something. The next time I applied for a new post card I would use that name in the comments - that helped a few times.

    I know - lots of work!

    The down side....
    Eventually the space will probably be leased or sold and I lose the ability to re-validate in the future.
    The fail rate is pretty high and it takes a long time to get that stupid post card
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  8. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #6 the ghost box.

    I'm not a lawyer and I haven't read all the federal laws pertaining to the postal service but #6 and #7 are definitely in the grey area of the law.

    At this point I am obsessed with winning my local keywords. I even open a local business in two metro areas thousands of miles away from home. I had such confidence that I could win my keywords and I put together a complete business serving 10 million people in two large metros. I didn't just want to win the main cities I wanted to win the "A" balloon for my keyword in every city over 50k in the area. So now I need a verified business address in 20+ cities thousands of miles from my home turf. I didn't have a license or a Realtor key to retrieve mail from inside business in these cities so I invented the Ghost box, well I am probably not the first guy to ever conjure up an address out of thin air so I can't really say that I invented it. In the end this business failed and all this time was lost :-(

    Back to trawling my target area, bit this time I was on a road trip living cheap and trying to work fast. Now I am looking a little different opportunity. I am looking for a space not so much as a vacancy.

    Example #1 - in an older light industrial area many times you will see a string of mailboxes located together. Most of the time they are not all matching and grouped together near the entrance. I would just add my box to the group and mark it up with a clear address that was congruent with the others.
    Example #2 - older strip mall or re-claimed old main street store front area. Most older strip malls are made up of all sorts of businesses. Restaurants, small and medium retail stores, service business like dry cleaners etc... The addresses are also mix and match because it just kind of happened over all the years. I would actually attach a new box right between two legitimate businesses or next to a cluster of boxes. I would head to Lowes and buy a box that matched the others I usually popped the extra for a nice locking box. Return at night and place my ghost box.
    1809 N Galloway Ave Mesquite.JPG
    Here is a great example of squeezing a box between two existing business

    I mentioned "older" because anything new had combined locking postboxes. You know the tan ones with multiple doors on the front and the mailman loads from the rear. I contemplated buying a few of these and placing them myself but they about a grand each and you need to register them with the local post office. Also I would end up with 20 address in the same spot - not really what I was looking for.

    As a side business - this would be great for someone who wanted to offer virtual office space. You could actually rent a small piece of sidewalk from a forward thinking landlord. Buy and place the multi box and register it with the post office and rent the boxes on a monthly basis. Collect and forward the mail, etc... Over active imagination...

    This ended up being an upgrade to the vacant home and business plan because the mail man was a lot more likely to deliver to my new box because it just appeared one day and I'm sure that he thought to himself "wow there must be a new business in the neighborhood"

    The downside...
    This is even more work that all the other methods
    I had to pay for the box - $20 to $80 bucks each
    I had to hire someone to check the boxes because I was working in a distant city
    Sometimes the building owner or someone else would remove my box (how dare they...)
    I felt a little bad about drilling holes in someone else s building to attach my box.
    At some point it will become clear who screwed that box to the building because I will be promoting that address a lot. I have never been called out but that is certainly a possibility.

    The upside...
    Once the box was there and the mail man was delivering to it I get to keep that address as long as it remains
    I even think that once mail service is established it is a federal crime to mess with my box. How crazy is that - my ghost box has rights..HAHAHA evil.
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  9. izkech

    izkech Regular Member

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    Thanks given for the awsome tips !!
     
  10. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #7 The Sticky box.

    This my absolute favorite, not the best or most effective, just my favorite because of it's simplicity and borderline stupidity.

    So I got tired of buying nice locking mail boxes and having them removed my the building owners
    I also started having second thoughts about drilling buildings.
    But most of all I was missing some really good locations because I couldn't figure out a way to attach my ghost box.

    So this is really just an upgrade to the ghost box I just outlined. Everything about finding the perfect spot and making it work are the same. The only difference is the box and the attachment.

    It started in Scottsdale AZ where I found the sweetest address ever but the building was this perfect pink stucco and glass. No where to attach my standard ghost box. I went back to Lowes (only a few minute away) to brain storm and this is what I came up with.

    Velcro Box 3.JPG
    This is a metro box, it's about $12 bucks and looks nice
    Velcro Box 2.JPG
    I filled the back with a 3/4 inch piece of poplar with some liquid nails and added some industrial velcro.
    Yep - velcro
    Velcro Box 1.JPG
    I find the address, put my numbers on the box.
    Peal off the backing on the second half of the velcro
    Walk up to the building and sick it right on the wall.

    This opened up a whole new category of locations for me. I could attach to glass, wood, brick, siding, just about anything. Best of all they were cheap and if I pissed someone off, they just had to pull and my sticky box came right off. You might ask "How well does it stick?" or "How long will it stay?" Well; I can assure you that it sticks really well and I have a few that are 2+ years old and still there.

    The box is small and once I have validated my address I can even pull the box myself and use it somewhere else. I love this trick and if I had not come up with a better plan I would still be using it.

    I am ready to disclose the perfect solution.
    Who wants to know the absolute best Local Search Address Spoof Method?
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  11. TFGreen

    TFGreen Junior Member

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    Your definitely getting into the "Grey" area, borderline Mail Fraud. I work with legitimate business's and have never had problems getting Phone Verification's.
     
  12. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Agreed - If I have a legitimate local business I wouldn't have to do any of this craziness.

    What if I had a local business that wanted to be in the local results in all the cities in their service area???
     
  13. TFGreen

    TFGreen Junior Member

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    One thing I do, is to verify their location on Google Maps. It's amazing how many are incorrect, off by 2-3 city blocks. I use this information as a selling tool.

    More later if there is interest.
     
  14. radarsurge

    radarsurge Regular Member Premium Member

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    I know a couple small business owners using relatives addresses and things like that. Although I think your techniques are great!

     
  15. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    I have not mentioned that one that actually works and is on the up-and-up
    Not much interest from the masses??
    I'm ready to let go of the real deal - anyone curious?
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  16. CosmicSoundz

    CosmicSoundz BANNED BANNED

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    spill the beans..
     
  17. lurnme

    lurnme Regular Member

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    Very creative, great ideas lol.
     
  18. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #8 part one... The Real Deal

    All along the mail man was the villain. I Had to spend too much time and energy to convince him/her to deliver my golden postcard to my bogus address. All the tricks numbers #1 - #7 do work and various levels of success and speeds and I still use some of them. But they are time consuming and far from 100% reliable and repeatable.

    In the end the mail man becomes the hero!
    After all my shenanigans I learned a lot about the postal service and the inner working of the local post office. Every morning the mail pours into each local post office after being sorted at a large regional HUB. The mail is broken down to the zip code and sometimes a little more depending on how it was sent in the first place. The last step of the sort is done manually by the route drivers. These guys/girls know every address on their route and the names associated with each address because they drive and deliver the same rout day in and day out. They throw anything and everything suspicious in the junk bin and this is the step in the process that I just couldn't get past. If I worked extra hard on an particular address I could get them to deliver my postcard but it was just too much work for the return on investment.

    The next problem with all the other tricks was that I had to collect the mail myself or I had to hire someone to run the route for me. I wont go into too much detail, but you can imagine the hassles I went through running a craigslist add looking for someone to collect mail from my sticky boxes and having to explain to them what I was doing and that I just need them to collect the mail and forward it to me.... Plus the extra cost - I ended up settling on $100 to run the route once a month and I paid to forward the mail. I hadn't factored that cost into my original project and it got out of hand quickly. So the ghost box and the stickbox works great in an area close to home where the cost of collection isn't a deal breaker.

    Back to the mailman becoming the hero. If the mailman sorts the mail every day and uses his brain instead of a computer to solve the small problems I decided to use that to my advantage. If someone addresses a letter and spells the name wrong - no problem the mail man knows what your intention is and delivers the letter instead of trashing it for bad spelling. If you miss the address by a few numbers but get the name right - no problem the mail man knows exactly where Mr Soandso lives and he delivers the letter. Some people have dyslexia and have a tendency to transpose numbers and get their east and west mixed up. As long as the address is close enough to get to the right route the mail man (using his brain - not some AI can figure out what you are trying to write and he will deliver the letter.

    My first experience with this happened by accident in 2005. I was working a project in California and I needed everything, bank account, contractors license, drivers license, legit business address, etc. I rented a UPS store box at 123 East Mission Avenue Box 141 (city name withheld to protect the innocent)

    My penmanship isn't that great and when I applied for my checking account my checks came back with 123 Emission Ave Suite 141..... instead of 123 E Mission Avenue... I was just about to call the bank and fix the error, when the thought occurred to me that if the mail man will deliver to "East Mission Avenue" when I use "Emission Avenue" I have an address that is not on the DMV list, or any list for that matter. So my business address in So Cal was 123 Emission Avenue Suite 141... from then on. I used that address to register vehicles, get a local drivers license, and everything. It worked for years and after I was done I kept the box and had my mail forwarded for two more years.

    I never use the work "Box" and I never use the # sign - I use Suite, or STE.
    I also use my business address as a keyword but that's a whole other topic for another post.

    More....
     
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  19. jaso009

    jaso009 Junior Member

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    Wow I love number 7 that is an awesomely sneaky trick. Takes some great creativity to come up with that :)
     
  20. Cleverchristopher

    Cleverchristopher Registered Member

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    Trick #8 part two The Real Deal. Continued...

    The UPS store!

    I know; using a UPS store box for local search sucks - everyone has tried it and Google knows where they are and you that a hit for being clustered with all the other idiots who think they can run a business out of a post box.... bla bla bla... I know, I'm a local search guy and I get it. But we aren't using the same address! We are across the street, up the street, around the corner, two blocks away. We are just relying on the mailman to figure it out for us and believe it or not it is the best long term solution of all.

    A few examples of an address spoofed UPS store address
    If the real address is
    815 1st Ave Suite 141, Hometown US, 54321 or the same address with the number spelled out
    815 First Avenue STE 141.....
    Here are some great spoof options:
    815 East 1st Avenue...
    815 West 1st Avenue... mix up the east and west mix up the north and south...
    518 First Avenue... mix up the numbers a little bit - not too much or you he/she wont be able to fix it
    818 1st Avenue... it's right across the street - and I will give the mailman some help *see bottom of post
    875 First Avenue the number 1 and 7 are easily confused with hand writing...
    315 1st Avenue... 8s and 3s are also interchangeable, be creative.
    815 Fifth Avenue... accidentally get the street name wrong - again be close enough that it can be solved

    Now to the real trick - you need to search Google Maps with all the possible addresses to see what GoogleMaps thinks about your attempted spoof. We are looking for an address that gives you a ligament marker balloon and looks believable. We also want an address that no other business are located at.

    We get all the good things having a UPS store box offers.
    #1. Its pretty cheap - 200 bucks a year - not free by any means but after all the junk I was doing before that's cheap
    #2. You can keep the same address for as long as you like.
    #3. They will forward your mail for just the cost of postage.
    #4. You can build an entire business around this new address (the spoofed one)

    I started collecting UPS store boxes in all my target cities and coming up with the best spoofed address for each one. Most of the time I can get at least two really good addresses that work from each box. (Some times I can get three.) Two or three good deliverable addresses with one box that only cost 100 bucks for six months - this is the best deal ever and I can get my mail forwarded without any hassles!

    Now the last phase in the process. When you apply for your Google post card there is a small blank for extra information that ends up on the second line. You can't get too much in there but you can get (UPS store on first) Or (UPS store Box) BTW - no numbers allowed in this field.

    With your almost close enough address and this tag about the "UPS store" you have a 90% shot at the mailman figuring it out. Once you establish the pattern everything else will be delivered without a hitch. It's fun when the clerk and the UPS store says "I can't believe this made it to your box - look the address is wrong..." I say - "wow that must have been a typo" "Make sure all the other mail that looks like that make it into my box..."

    Hometown Insurance
    Attn: UPS store box 141 (*the key to the spoof)
    815 Fifth Avenue Suite 141
    Hometown, US 54321

    In closing.... I hope some of you find this helpful. I have a crazy amount of time into this little game and was reluctant to get into this much detail. I hope that I can become a valuable member of this forum and get some good information in return.
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