There has been much buzz in recent days about the spread of fake news and its impact. But fake news stories aren’t the only type of false information being spread around the internet; the truth is that the spread of malicious, false information is becoming increasingly common and it comes in many forms. A recent article on searchengineland.com lists out a few of the top fake information threats, one of which is the very real issue of fake local listings for brick and mortar businesses. Local listings is a subject very near and dear to us here at Milestone, so we decided to go into detail about the issue because these fake listings can have a very real impact on your bottom line.
Creating a business listing on Google is quick and easy, and unfortunately there’s not much in the way to prevent the creation of false business listings. This ability has become the crux of scams run by call centers, typically located abroad. These call centers create fake locations for bogus businesses on Google Maps, and they offer services such as locksmithing, carpet cleaning, etc. The call centers then employ unskilled workers to perform these tasks that would otherwise be done by more appropriately trained professionals representing actual business locations in the area, all while charging premium prices. People in need of a services close to their location will reach out to these deceptive listings without thinking twice, which is why the home repair/service market is heavily affected by this scam. The end result is that customers are overcharged for third-rate work, and legitimate local businesses suffer from the lost patronage. While crackdowns on these scams can be swift, unfortunately it’s equally quick to create new fake listings and revive the operation
But this type of scam isn’t the only problem plaguing business listings. Duplicate and incorrect listings can be just as harmful. Your business’ UNAP (URL, name, address, and phone number) is recorded and stored in many places across the web, and there are many ways that incorrect UNAP information can be attributed to your business. With so many different listings, It’s nearly impossible to pin down the exact source of false information. Erroneous changes could be coming from changes made by someone from within your organization, an agency you’re working with, and even customers have the ability to contribute information that may be incorrect. All of this will be detrimental to your overall performance, as customers and search engines alike tend to trust businesses with more consistent information. This is why it’s essential that your business listings are constantly monitored.
If you have any questions about managing your local listings please reach out to us, we offer software and services that can help you avoid these issues.