When I think of spam in local search, I first think of businesses using phony addresses near a city center, creating multiple local listings, hijacking other companies’ listings, and things like that — usually associated with business listings. But over the past couple weeks, I’m seeing more local SEO spam creeping into one of the message boards I manage.
Here are a couple recent new member profiles from the U2 fan forum on my @U2 website:
I’ve tried to block out some of the identifiable business name info here because I believe these local businesses don’t know that this is being done in their name. Why do I think that? Because, in both examples, the IP address used to create the forum profile is from India. So, I suspect these companies — both in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area — hired the same SEO company, and that company outsources its “link building” (to use the term extremely loosely) to India.
(Furthermore, I traded emails with one of the companies above and the guy told me he had no idea this was happening and didn’t approve of it.)
I’ve been seeing the anchor text link spam in forums for years now. (I’m talking about the links that say “back surgery” and “durham fence builder.”)
What’s new above, at least to me, is that the spammer is putting the exact address and/or phone number in the “Location” field in an attempt to create a local citation.
Sad and pathetic, if you ask me.
The problem for local businesses is that, if/when this spam gets caught, they’ll pay the price, not the SEO company that’s doing it.
Small business owners: If you’re working with an SEO company, do yourself a favor and ask as many questions as possible about what they’re doing on your behalf — where they’re getting new links for you, where they’re getting local citations for you, etc. It’s your job to know this.