I work with local businesses on a daily basis, optimizing their Google Business presence and overall web marketing strategy.
Therefore, I have a sharp eye when it comes to identifying a listing that seems out of place.
Recently, I ordered pizza from a local spot here in Philadelphia, and found that the menu listing for the business seemed a bit strange.
It shows a website I had never heard of called “singleplatform.com.”
SinglePlatform appears to be a legitimate way for businesses to create online assets.
When you visit the link above, it shows a very basic looking menu that seems to display at least some of the correct items that are on the real menu, when compared to the restaurant’s website.
Now, here’s the interesting part.
When you click the large “order online” button, you are redirected to another website, trycaviar.com. This site looks harmless, but one question comes to mind.
Why am I being redirected around to what is likely the same menu?
The answer – AFFILIATE SCHEME!
If you look closely at the url as you land on trycaviar.com, you pass through a ShareASale link, a well known affiliate website.
The final destination url has a ShareASale affiliate code in the url:
As of this writing, I have discovered a few restaurants in the Philadelphia area which have been victimized by this scheme. It’s possible that they do in fact receive food orders, but the fact the user is redirecting to multiple websites is a poor user experience.
Not only that, but someone is likely profiting off of local brick-and-mortar, mom-and-pop type businesses and possibly costing them sales.
Here’s another example on a local coffee shop with the same situation:
Whenever there is an affiliate link, it seems that there is a “claim this menu” button at the bottom which likely means the restaurant did not create the asset.
I have found instances where the correct company is listed, which likely means the business “claimed” their SinglePlatform menu or created it themselves.
Otherwise, it’s odd that these would be listed as the main menu for the restaurant.
Someone is hijacking restaurant local business knowledge panels to send user traffic to a “fake” menu which then redirects to yet another menu, via affiliate link.
SinglePlatform may very well be a legitimate service. In this case it is used creatively to redirect users to a trycaviar.com affiliate link.
There’s no doubt this process could be replicated over and over and with most business owners unaware of how to audit their own business in Google, this could end up being a pervasive problem.
Right now I have discovered this for Philadelphia area restaurants, but it could be taking place in other parts of the country or even the world. I will be reaching out to Google directly to combat this.
When working with a local business on their web presence and overall SEO effort, one of the most critical elements is to ensure that their Google Business information and knowledge graph panel is accurate and up to date.
Otherwise, you can be giving potential customers the wrong info on a daily basis which can result in a significant drop in sales, lack of attendance, lack of phone calls, etc.
For example, there is a local Mexican restaurant near me that is quite popular, however when you Google the business, it shows strange hours of operation – “closes at 2 PM, and reopens at 5 PM.”
I contacted this restaurant to see if this was indeed true. Turns out it’s not, so we’re in the process of getting that cleaned up!
If you would like a Google local business audit, please contact us today. If you are looking for consulting of any kind to improve your web presence, SEO, or you just need to partner with a digital marketing agency, please feel free to reach out!