Most people don't realize it but spam in your local search results is an ever growing problem.
Casey Meraz posted a blog over at Moz going into further detail than we will here. It's worth a read but a lot of it is more relevant to larger metro areas and more competitive cities and search terms.
Instead, we'll point out a couple things we've seen locally that you should keep an eye out for.
First up, the relatively new Google Local Guide program is a great start in getting the community more involved in local business but it is coming with downsides.
We've already written about the shenanigans that are going on with reviews, most notably the odd reviews for Parisi's Restaurant where they mentioned chess night and a kids area. Odd, right?
Well, they are just copying and pasting reviews for multiple places in hopes to climb the Local Guide ladder and gain access and perks. This isn't only a problem with reviews but for backend maintenance of GMB pages as well.
If you don't have control of your GMB page, you're way behind the curve. If you have control but aren't actively monitoring and updating it, you're still behind the curve. The number of 'suggestions' we will receive on a given clients listing has dramatically increased.
There are clearly *some* users just flying through and marking random items on listings. If you are controlling your GMB listing, you'll see this when they come through as a hyperlinked 'Resolve Updates' option.
Some will be relevant, some will not. Regardless if it's relevant or not, you will still be asked to answer and respond to certain aspects of your business. There is no concrete evidence one way or another as to what ignoring these will do to your listing but we're not willing to take that gamble and find out. Once a week, we sit down and update every single query Google has asked for.
This isn't to say the the Local Guides feature is a mess and full of people looking to take advantage. There have been fantastic strides made because of the program and the majority of the users are using it responsibly. But as a business owner, you need to be aware of the downfalls and what measures can be taken to counteract them.
We've now written about how to handle the spam reviews and spam information markers. As more issues pop up (unfortunately, they will), we'll address those too.
If you have any questions about your GMB listing, you can contact us here for a free consultation. We're more than happy to see what the best option for you is and from there, you can decide what you would like to do.