Beware: Competitor Hijacks Google Local Business Listing? Maybe, Maybe Not!

I don’t think that this is the case but at SeoRoundTable there is a posting in regards to Local Business Listing being hijacked that was based on a discussion at a Digital Point Forum thread:

I have a client, who did not register a business listing on Google maps, but their competitor took the time to do it for them, using their own url instead of my clients of course.
The listing shows as unverified, but I imagine that could stay that way for months.

You might want to check your Google map business listing to make sure someone hasn’t done the same to you.

I have seen and written about this happening before (see Redemption in the Gilded Google Age and The road to Google Maps Nirvhana is paved with good intentions). I too, at first, assumed evil intent. Usually though, it is caused by Google’s attempt to establish an authoritative website when none has been specifically entered. Bill Slawski has written about Google’s patent on this area in his Authority Documents for Google Local Search. Google’s guesses are mostly pretty good but as you can see from my experience, when it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. In their defense they fixed it reasonably quickly.

While it is conceivable to me that the system that Google has set up for verification in the Local Business Center could be fooled, I think it more likely that this is just one of those big boner mistakes that Google occasionally makes due to its heavy reliance on algorithms.

Update 2/10/07

Maps Guide Jen has recently posted this response at the Digital Point Forums (bold added by me):

The algorithms on Google Maps automatically select relevant web pages to appear with each business listing. These algorithms work to link each business listing with the most accurate web page the algorithm can find. However, it sometimes misses the most appropriate site for an individual business.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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