With the importance of local listings and citations becoming more apparent every day, spammers have also taken to it the way they did email. What does this mean for businesses?
Genuine Businesses Lose Out to Rogue Ones
Local businesses sometimes face fierce competition from scammers who create fake listings online and try to sound legitimate.
In my search for example, I came across this local bathtub refinishing business whose owner demonstrates how 80% of the bathtub refinishers’ listings in his city are fake:
As you can see from this video, fake listings often belong to businesses that don’t follow best practices, don’t have requisite insurance or certification, and try to trick online directories by appearing to be in the same league as genuine businesses.
In some cases, they aren’t even businesses they claim to be: they are referral outfits that send out subcontractors when customers call.
Scams Can be Very Elaborate
In a recent investigation by CBC News, Ottawa, they found a real estate listing scam where a seller was trying to get a $12,000 token deposit on a house he didn’t own. The scam was extensive enough to include a fake law firm that would send legitimate-sounding paperwork and instructions to unsuspecting buyers to encourage them to pay.
These scams not only steal customers away from genuine businesses, but also break consumer trust in them as it becomes harder to tell them apart from the fake ones.
How do You Fix This?
For one, businesses could do what the gentleman in the video above has done: keep an eye on their listings and those of their competitors to understand what is going on. Secondly, he is using the power of the Internet to educate his customers and help them avoid making a mistake. This is why having an active online and social media presence is key.
Such a proactive approach can help SMBs not only stay on top of online listings, but also build trust with customers by educating them on the best practices they should demand from local contractors.
Keeping an Eye on All Listings is Not Easy
An average SMB has over 68 different online listings. Keeping an eye on all of them is a chore, and updating all of them when there’s a change in your information is nearly impossible.
This is where digital agencies and online listing management platforms play a huge role. You can use these platforms to help your clients stay on top of their listings, reviews and even social media activity around their business.
Stay Vigilant, Stay Relevant
Incorrect listings and hijacked listings don’t just cost a business money but also its reputation. This shows that not only do listings need to be created and corrected, but also monitored and managed like online reviews.