Wow, the number of ways to manipulate search results just keep growing. A technique coined “mapspamming” has begun to pollute Yahoo! Local’s results, as has “comment bombing”.
In a known case, a company pretending to be a local florist engages in fals advertising–they buy a local phone number with a fake business address, and gets themselves listed in Yahoo! Local. Part of the ranking algo for Yahoo! Local includes proximity to the geographic center, these reults appear near the top. Next, several fake Yahoo! user accounts are used to rate the scammers highly, and denigrate the competing local florists.
Calls to the phone number are forwarded to a national call center, where the pretend florist takes the order and transmits it to a real florist, keeping a hefty percentage of the order and any service charges. Although the consumer thinks they’re dealing with a florist local to that town, they’re actually getting ripped off.
For the full story, see http://www.floristdetective.com/localsearchforflorists.aspx