Local SEO is the Wild West

Tumbleweeds

I am a huge fan of cop shows and am currently binge watching Justified. I just finished season one and you if haven’t watch it, I highly recommend it. I finding myself rooting for the main character Raylan Givens and his brand of justice. The first episode starts off Raylan confronting a villain that we told that he had 24 hours to leave Miami. I won’t tell you what happens next as it is a major part of the series plot.

Local SEO is the exactly like the villains in Justified. Instead of kidnapping, killing people, running drugs and guns, the spammers are having a field with fake listings and fake reviews. In fact, Local SEO is the wild west with no sheriff on duty and in desperate need of US Marshal Givens.

fake lead gen listing
Google is the biggest platform for local searches and information. User can’t perform a search for any local business without being served up the map pack with three local results. The problem is a lot of results have spammed their way into map pack. Consumers are playing a bad round of Russian Roulette, instead of one bullet, the gun has five bullets. Spammers are creating fake lead gen listings at an alarming rate. Blackhat sellers are taking full advantage of the Trust Verified program and creating listings on a daily basis. Other marketing companies are creating over one listing a day. The listings are being used as lead generation listings. An unsuspecting consumer will call the telephone and be directed to a call center. The call center turns around and sells the lead, call to a different business. These listing typically have keywords added to the listing and fake reviews to help them rank above businesses playing by the rules. Google is incapable to detect, stop or remove these listings.

Yelp is attempting to battle fake reviews has rolled a hyper-aggressive algorithm to battle reviews. Business owners are calling foul as has been dozens of reviews per location targetted. While Yelp is trying to battle reviews, they lack the verification process to prevent fake listings from being created. I was speaking with somebody that purposely created fake Yelp account to spam Yelp. Yelp banned the accounts and left the reviews and businesses intact. I have seen Yelp removed reviews for violating their TOS yet leave the photos as part of the businesses approved photos. Yelp is also unable to identify stolen photos being posted as proof of work being performed.

Facebook has nothing to offer to battle fake reviews. Their biggest contribution to battle fake reviews was to move away from star ratings to recommendations. Facebook is extremely inept at dealing with fake reviews at present time. They are too busy dealing with data breaches and the FTC’s investigation.

I am not Marshal Givens and I am more like Boyd Crowder on a mission for God with my merry band of vigilantes helping to report and take down spam. Our efforts rely solely on Google spammers. We work tirelessly helping to find and report spam. The spammers won’t; stop and neither will we. Who will win in the long run, remains to be seen?

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