Google Places has a section open to the public titled “Report a problem,” and one of the problems to report is “this place is permanently closed.” If enough users click it, the business is labeled “reportedly closed.”
"Like any open system, this one can be abused," reports The Times' David Segal. "Search engine consultants say that 'closing' a business on Google has become an increasingly common tactic among unscrupulous competitors."
An A4A member would never consider sabatoging a competitor's Google Places account.
But your competitors might. So you just need to be aware of this sleazy tactic.
This is a great piece of reporting about a black hat search engine tactic. But don't get too paranoid about it.
Google can figure out a way to ensure that your business will be deliisted from Places only when real people report it closed and not when conniving competitors who create a Google profile just to delete your listing report it closed.
Google has so much cash that it sponsors $30 million in prizes to the first privately funded teams to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, have that robot travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send video, images and data back to the Earth.
So it can probably figure out how to tweak an algorithm to not allow fake claims to delist a business from Places.