Nearly three weeks ago, Eater reported that the delivery service OrderAhead was creating fake websites with the names of local restaurants (with web addresses that made them seem legit), then taking online orders that charged more than their restaurant prices and delivering food for a profit. Now GeekWire reports that the illicit sites have existed not just in Washington but across several states for the past month, and Google has stepped in to try to resolve the problem.
Per GeekWire, Google has started "penalizing the unauthorized sites in search results, removing them from restaurant profiles in Google Maps, and revoking the 'verified' status on Google Business restaurant listings that connect to the OrderAhead sites." Local restaurants affected so far include Mel's Market, Niko's Gyros, Green Leaf Vietnamese, Wild Ginger, and Cafe Turko.
As of this morning, the problem seems to be resolved with Niko's Gyros and Green Leaf Vietnamese, and partially fixed with Mel's Market and Cafe Turko. An online search for the latter two now does not yield the OrderAhead site in the main algorithmic results for the restaurant, but the fake site does still appear in the knowledge graph to the right. See GeekWire's screenshot graphic below:
Search-engine optimization experts recommend that restaurants whose listings are "still being hijacked" should try Google's phone support options first to fix them, says GeekWire. Read the site's full coverage here.