New and Common Ways for Competitors to Hurt Your Local Rankings
Whether you have just started a new local business or have been in the game for years, a solid web presence should be at the forefront of your web strategy. In the past, developing a web presence was easier overall but it was more difficult to target local audiences with specific offers, keywords or content. As search engines have moved to optimize local search in a way never before imagined, more and more competition has appeared in smaller markets and SERPs. Much like with any market, dirty tactics will ultimately manifest as competitors seek to gain an advantage over one another. In the world of local search, this could not be truer – unfortunately, many are unaware of the tactics used to achieve these goals. In the following article, we will discuss the newest and most common ways that competitors can negatively impact your local rankings in pursuit of a better ranking for themselves.
Bad Lead Generation
Many local search engine optimized websites and businesses rely upon lead generation to excel in local search. Whether you operate a lead-based business that specializes in auto glass or floral arrangements, these leads are forwarded to your inbox or that of your affiliate’s for inspection and follow-through. If a competitor wants to destroy your credibility and weaken the ability for you to earn revenue, then they can easily submit dozens or hundreds of fraudulent requests for more information through your website. This act of pinging noise to your affiliates can make it difficult to discern which requests are real and can end up disrupting your bottom line. The best way to combat this is to ensure that filters exist to prevent bot spam, but even this cannot stop live people from doing the same thing.
Whether you are dealing with Yelp, Google Places or simply via word of mouth, bad reviews can be a death knell for many local web-based businesses. These negative reviews – especially when published to authority sites – can cause your SERP rankings to drop rapidly, leaving you with a fraction of the exposure you once enjoyed. Compounding upon this problem is the fact that those who do manage to find you may see all of the negative reviews associated with your brand or business, and subsequently decide to shop somewhere else. The best way to handle this and repercussions from this tactic is to encourage your legitimate customers to leave feedback and reviews, helping to balance any negative attempts to hurt your local rankings.
Backup Your Site
Another common way that competitors have been known to inflict damage on your site is through the installation of malware and the overt hacking of your website. These tactics can wreak havoc on your local rankings if search engines like Google believe you to be pinging noise or malware to users, so it can be a great way for them to sabotage your efforts. If you use a platform such as WordPress, regularly scheduled backups can be created automatically – this is highly recommended regardless of niche.