When you search for a service on Google, you expect the site to serve up local listings for legitimate businesses. But that doesn't always happen. Sometimes, as the New York Times pointed out in a story about scamming locksmiths earlier this year, Google will include fake businesses among its results.
To begin cutting out these businesses, Google is running a pilot in San Diego that will require locksmiths and plumbers without storefronts to undergo an advanced verification process. The application takes 30 minutes to complete and Google will send results back two weeks later. Businesses must have their application in by November 10 in order to keep their listing, according to an email sent to merchants. The email also notes that the program may expand to other cities in the future. The new verification process is supposedly more robust than the current standard, whereby Google sends businesses a postcard in the mail with a verification code. RR