Google local search has experienced multiple problems in the past with spammy posts. In an attempt to weed out old and duplicate listings, Google has begun an update to its dashboard. With this update, Google has been sending out emails requesting action from business owners to verify their listings as well as the new guidelines for local business listings.
The Updated Guidelines:
A single descriptor in addition to the business’s actual title that allows customers to locate your business or understand what your business offers. This excludes marketing taglines, phone numbers, store codes, or URLs.
Individual practitioners are allowed to be listed individually as long as they are public-facing with their parent organization. There must be a way to contact a practitioner directly at the verified location during the stated hours, and there should not be multiple listings to cover all specializations.
Departments within businesses, universities, hospitals, and government buildings that are publicly distinct as entities or groups, may be listed separately from their parent organization. Ideally, they would have separate phone numbers and/or customer entrances.
While these upgrades are great and all, there is still seems to be no end to local listings spam. This has been a recurring issue for local business owners, despite the fact that Google has been forcing business owners to re-verify their accounts.
The most common form of hijacking a local listing is when a business claims several unclaimed listings as their own, and inserts their own information into the listing. The business that has hijacked the listings typically has no physical location, but uses these listings to generate leads for their own business.
Another form of hijacking is a business that hijacks a competitor's listings and exchanges the information listed for their own, therefore eliminating competition by replacing it with themselves. Some are even sneakier than that and merely change the phone number listed, so that potential clients contact them instead of their competitors. And there are many more variations of these scams.
Claim your business’s local listings to ensure that all the information is correct, and that you are the only party who can control the information listed.
Of course, this doesn’t mean your Google local listing experience will necessarily be all fun and games, but this is the best thing you can do to ensure your business is listed correctly on all sites: actively keep up with your listings, consistently updating them with new information, and keeping an eye for any unwanted activity.