On January 14, 2014, SearchEngineLand broke a story that the Google+Local pages for around 4,000 hotels, branded and unbranded alike, had been “hijacked” by a third party. Many of hotels in question had unverified listings on Google+Local that had been claimed by the 3rd party to steal traffic, according to Danny Sullivan, the founder of SearchEngineLand. Google has said it is aware of and addressing the issue.
    As important to the hotels as the Google+Local listings themselves are for branding and distribution of local information, these pages rarely see much traffic from consumers. The greater concern is that Google Search now relies on Google+Local to display basic contact information and primary links in its organic listings. So, in effect a 3rd party’s that has set up links links on Google+Local is able to redirect hoteliers’ traffic from their SERPs to its network of sites.
    Hotels have been facing this sort of claim jumping for many years. Those who have dedicated resources focused on SEO monitor links and traffic on a regular basis and are able to address issues like these swiftly.
    For those who are just joining the SEO party, there is a short list of steps to help you own and monitor what is happening to your Google+Local pages as well as any other pages you own or operate across the digital landscape:
  1. "Verify” your site listing by clicking the “Is this your business?” link on Google+Local, then provide contact information such as a property’s or flag’s alias and a phone number. You will then need to wait for a Google representative to call and confirm your identity.
  2. When setting up your Google+Local pages, make sure to include links to and from your other web addresses including your corporate web site, your property website and other social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Use website analytics to identify traffic and active links that produce traffic and/or SEO authority.
  4. Set up a SEO monitoring program or hire a digital firm to do this for you.