For a law firm or any type of business, the Internet can be a treacherous place where your competition may jump at the chance to destroy you. A recent blog post of ours addressed online business reputation ransoming in which moving companies were being given false negative reviews on Google Places by reputation management companies who later contacted them for business. Now, people are not only spamming the Google Places profiles of their local competitors with fake, negative reviews, they are also reporting their competitors’ businesses as CLOSED.
A Search Engine Guide article discusses these recent and upsetting events occurring on Google Places. About 97% of consumers use the Internet to find a local business, which is why the majority of businesses create and manage a Google Places account. If business is that slow that a person needs to falsely report their competitor’s business as closed, then this creates a big problem in an already struggling economy. An even bigger problem, however, is why Google has allowed such deceptive practices to take place. Why aren’t Google Places owners notified through a confirmation email that their business has been reported as closed? Wouldn’t this provide an effective and reasonable way for accounts that reported the business closed to be manually reviewed so they can be banned? Sure, you could say that spammers will always find new ways of slipping through the cracks of the system, but shouldn’t every possible precaution be taken, especially when a businesses’ reputation and profits are on the line? We all know how hard it is to get a good Google Places ranking and the hoops Google puts you through to get it… so why is it so easy to get your listing shut down???
As Google works on making false closure reports more difficult to manifest, businesses and marketing companies should frequently check Google Places listings for false closure reports. Equally important is for Google Places users to keep their heads on straight. Don’t give in to the temptations of false reviews and false closure reporting. This will not benefit you. If everyone starts making false reviews and false closure reports, how will people be able to trust Google Places local listings anymore? If your business can’t be found on the Internet, a free perk Google Places makes possible, your profits will diminish.
The potential threat of Google Places sabotage should not deter you from having a Google Places account and it certainly should not stop you from establishing a presence and authority online. In the end, your ethical practices will outshine the unethical approaches to Internet success. In the meantime, you can still be tough and ethical at the same time by arming yourself with knowledge about these events and how to prevent and solve them. If you back down, then the other side wins. The power of knowledge is your first defense.