What is the Problem?
The greatest problem is that they are rampant and obvious. Legitimate businesses have been known to change their names in some ways to rank better as far as keywords go. Another additional issue to this problem is that Google will be shutting down their Map Maker program at the end of this month. While edits will be allowed to data previously added to this program, any additions will have to be made through Google Maps instead. The easy solution to this problem is to have Google reward brands through a local search, and then it needs to have such happen accordingly in local search algorithms.
How Large is This Problem?
These tactics have become such an issue, which some people are suing Google and other search engines. On January 13, 2017, fourteen locksmiths sued several search engines of making face spam listings. There have been some changes as of late to lead to fixing this concern in a positive way on the surface; there are still many other issues that remain in the local search ecosystem.
Faking It in Several Ways
Some listings will appear in Google for specific searches that do not match a real entity. For example, searching for a personal injury attorney in the Denver area yields many results. The second business on the list is the Denver Trial Lawyers. This name sounds rather fishy, but it does link to a website. Sometimes, these websites are not for an actual entity. Other search results lead to phone numbers that are inaccurate or do not work, so they might also be a key to what a spam listing looks like.
Here is why these names are spammy. They combine a keyword search with the location of their search into one title for business. They might be true, but there are chances that it was made for SEO spam purposes.
Deciding to Report
There are a few steps to undergo to see if it is spam before reporting it. Looking through a state government’s website can lead to a listing of businesses in a given area that is registered appropriately. Looking at this information can mean dealing with an outdated document, but some entities are old enough to appear on these listings. If a given business is not in this listing, then there is a chance that it either (a) did not exist at the time the document was made, (b) went out of business after the document was made, or (c) belongs to a spam listing. B and C are the most troublesome because of a business that lands in category B easily can end up in category C if someone snatches up B’s information and uses it for the means of C.
There is only one way to deal with spam issues in local search results. That is for the consumer looking at these ads to report them as spam. It takes some research to determine if it is spam, but it means helping the process of eliminating these search options faster over time if all search engine options are carefully combed over and reported by as many people as possible.