Google has revealed it’s suing a search engine optimization (SEO) company for making so-called robocalls that claim affiliation with the search engine giant.
Robocalls are no doubt familiar to many people, and normally constitute an automated call that broadcasts a pre-recorded message on behalf of a company. It’s a cheap, easy way to market at-scale, without spending lots of money on, you know, human sales people. And Google says it’s a problem that has blighted its company for a long time.
“Robocallers have targeted Google users for many years, ” explained Brad Wetherall, Google My Business operations manager, in a blog post yesterday. “Callers commonly bombard recipients — usually small business owners or individuals — with misleading offers and promotions for improving Google Search and AdWords rankings, or to improve their Google My Business profile.”
The company said that it has received “hundreds” of complaints this year alone, from people who received automated calls from companies claiming to be connected to Google. As the company noted, it is a tricky issue to tackle, given that many of the callers use fake names and untraceable numbers, but the company has identified one such operative in California and is now taking action.
“Today we’re filing an action in California against one search engine optimization company for making these robocalls and confusing our users,” continued Wetherall. “It’s unfortunate when a problem must be addressed in a court of law, but we believe this course of action will protect our users and discourage this practice more broadly.”
The suit was filed in the Northern District of California, reports Search Engine Land, against a company called “Local Lighthouse Corp,” which operates out of Tustin, California.
While Google receives a lot of criticism for many of its own practices, this move will no doubt be welcomed by many, given that robocallers are a widely recognized pain in the posterior. Earlier this year, PayPal faced heat over a new service agreement that seemed to allow the company to hassle customers with robocalls and text messages without providing a way to opt-out, aside from closing their account. The company later backtracked, and said it would let customers opt-out.