Recently we blogged about the virtues of Local Search, and specifically some important things to look at in your Google Listing to try and penetrate the elusive Google Ten Pack. It appears that this topic is hotter than we thought. Not only have we received feedback that businesses were wondering how other businesses got listed there (and therefore loved the post), but we have heard from people who have been affected by spammers of local search.
Yes – local search is seen as such a benefit that the spammers have already taken to abusing it. [Editor’s Note: We are not going to give any spammer out there any more publicity, and we will try and keep the details of how to do it to a minimum so we don’t give anyone ideas.] Basically what ends up happening is that a spammer’s business ends up with a number of listings within a big town, and/or a separate listing for each town within a large geographic area. The spammy part is that the business only has one actual address – not a number of locations like a bank or chain restaurant might have. So the business shows up in local searches, even when they don’t really belong.
What does this do? Well, if you are a competing business it is another competitor you must overcome in order to crack the top listings on local searches in the Google 10 Pack. Is what they are doing illegal? Maybe. Maybe not. Unethical? Most likely. A headache for other businesses? Without a doubt.
It’s always been the case that the internet has a segment of unethical people who try to manipulate the search results to get their sites ranked higher. Eventually, they will get caught…but until then, they cause a lot of strife for other small business owners out there trying to do the right thing.
So what’s a competitor to do? You can try and contact the company and let them know that what they are doing isn’t right. They may be good people and try and take down the listings on their own. On the other hand, you could also report the listings as spam to the search engines. For Google that is here. For Yahoo! that is here: here. That should do it, but with so many listings out there it may take some time to get the problem fixed.
Hope this helps all of you out there that have run into this. Let us know if you have any questions.