Marauders are Lurking in Google Places
When you sail into the waters of Google Places, watch out for pirates. Hijack, hostage, and extortion are the names of their game. Google has yet to shoot over their bows and some unsuspecting business owners are being cheated and harassed.
If you have a brick & mortar shop, it’s likely that your business is already listed on Google Places. Cracks in the system have allowed some low-life extortion artists to hijack listings and hold them hostage, then attempt to extort a fee to remove the erroneous listing. Here is an example, from Google Places Help Forum, of a business that (almost) fell victim to this unscrupulous tactic.
The business domain was compromised and several listings were already ‘Claimed by Owner’, barring any intervention by the legitimate owner. The business was then contacted by a ‘marketing expert’ who, for a fee, would ‘fix’ the problem. When rebuffed, the ‘expert’ threatened the business owner.
It is critical for your business that you find and claim your Google Places listing. Surprisingly, a very small percentage of businesses has done this. Find your listing, verify it and ensure that the information is complete and correct. If you discover that your listing has been hijacked, or if you find duplicate (and incorrect) listings, go to Google Places Help Forum. Here’s a page on the Help Forum with some insight into hijacked, merged, or duplicated listings: Hijacked, Merged or Duplicated Listings
As a brick & mortar business, Google Places will help you ‘Get Found’ online and should, definitely, be an integral part of your online marketing strategy. Protect your business by claiming your listing and taking ownership of it.
It’s easy. It’s smart. Do it right now.