Hmmm. Interesting. Is it possible to adjust the title of the thread. My wording was off.
It is both a potentially local issue and it arises on google serps. The aforementioned variety of sites; USwidgets.com, Nationalwidgets.com, Betterwidgets.net, Professionalwidgets.com etc. all show high for organic search phrases on a variety of terms; (ie widgets, widget, widgeting, etc.) All of those terms are vital in traffic for competing sites and businesses. The sites all interlink. Look for widgets in a particular city and say Omahawidgets.com will rank high as will the interlinked national sites such as uswidgets.com, nationalwidgets.com, betterwidgets.com--each one pointing to the one address or 2 local versions of web sites for omaha widgets. The national sites all have affiliate income and other income sources on top of dominating the various widget phrases (and longer tail widget variations) and crowd out competitive businesses and sites for searches such as widgets in Cleveland, New Jersey Widgets, Widgets New Orleans, etc.
The interlinking is vast and all goes back to the same registrants.
It is definitely a spammy effort on the local side. On top of the issues mentioned, there are some specific sites developed all pointing to specific business addresses; each one having a url for neighboring mid sized cities. That definitely violates guide rules in Google Maps.
Interestingly the spammyness and multiplicity of visibility of these interlinking sites doesn't show as much in other engines. I suppose the interlinking aspect, and the overwhelming volume of sites dominating this widget category is creating greater ranking visibility in google.
[edited by: tedster at 7:12 pm (utc) on Mar. 5, 2009]