Google Mapspam – Local Search Marketing goes wild

Update: Sometime around 8:00 EDT Saturday evening it appears that Google has removed these listings. It was reported below by Cavan Moon of eClickPerformance.

Stephen Peron of ImNotaDoctor.com reports a case of Mapspam that he discovered while researching the phrase “San Diego internet consulting” (graphic courtesy of Imnotadoctor.com):

He noted that the listing shows up for every major city as well. The spammer appears to have posted his listing 4,176 times:

biglocal.jpg

It is of interest that the spammer does so well on such a broad range of terms over so many cities. For example on the search: “Local Internet Marketing NY NY” :

internetmarketingny.jpg

And on the phrase: “local internet consulting Chicago il“:

internetconsultingchi.jpg

This spam raises several interesting questions for me.

1)This was clearly a bulk upload that I was under the impression were now reviewed by Google. Big Local even notes in their listing: “Not a Physical Location.”

2)It ranks well for terms that there are few if any indicators it should rank well for. Their site has a low page rank and not much optimized content. Their local listings are sparse and have no reviews, few if any web page references and few keywords in their listings.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
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15 thoughts on “Google Mapspam – Local Search Marketing goes wild”

  1. Wow – I’ve seen a less severe case where a law firm captured several of the 10-pack listings, but this takes the cake!

    It’s surprising that this kind of spamming is able to slip past Google – pretty embarrassing for them. The longer it takes them to fix this issue, the more tempting it will be for other spammers to follow suit.

  2. Hi Jim

    It is surprising isn’t it. You would think that some simple flags could be set that would alert someone to take a look…how many of the same domain for example is reasonable before it should raise an alert..

    Ahmed Farooq has some basic guidelines on how the industry could/should be fighting spam…but it appears that Google is behind the times, doesn’t it.

    Mike

  3. Hi Seo Charlotte-

    Who knows whether their listing will stay or go. What about all of the companies that they are posting?

    Interestingly they guarantee Local 10 Pack listings on 5 categories of your choice within 30 days. When I asked them how long they had been in business the rep said: “I have been with them since December and they were around long before that.”

    He also noted “Everything we do is completely above board” and that there would be no Google consequences of their activities.

    Mike

  4. Oh, we can finally say, Local Search has arrived in our community.

    I am surprised it has taken this long and I look forward and the resulting battles and subsequent improvements to come.

  5. Hi Mike,

    Wow, more Spam. Not surprising to me. A while back I pointed out the Comedy Defensive Driving (or just defensive driving) in Dallas spam listings where comedydefensivedriving.com has about 36 local listings.

    I brought it up in the Google maps group, where maps guide jen said they’d look into it months ago but it’s still there.

  6. Hi Justin/Kimber

    I suppose it is a form of validation….I’d rather it came in some other form like an interview in the NY Times…but validation it is.

    And Kimber, No the arrival is not surprising but it is surprising that this one, which appears automated, made it through the google gate keepers. I saw the Dallas one and it was a hand job, so to speak. In the Dallas one, it appeared that it was done with the agreement of the various local restaurants and when Google has some sort of verification on file they seem reluctant to pull it done. An example of that is the PayDay spam…still up there.

    Mike

  7. I wish I could say I’m surprised, but it seems the search engines are all struggling to defend against automated spam. The sad part is that this isn’t even particularly clever compared to some of the other large scale local spam we’ve seen. Oh, and a company selling search services should really try to spell “search” properly. :)

  8. Hi Cavan-

    I am not that familiar with the specific attributes of records created via Google’s bulk upload but I was under the impression that once you uploaded them the Edit New! button would disappear and the details section of the record would indicate that the info was submitted by the business owner much like individually entered records. Is that the case?

    Neither is the case with these records. Is it possible that they were bulk uploaded to some other party and appeared that way? I can find no other reference to them elsewhere on the internet though.

    Mike

  9. That’s been my experience Mike. Upon clicking the “more info” button, bulk uploaded listings should include an “add or edit your business” link and a “provided by the business owner” notice under each appropriate tab.

    It appears that Google has pulled all of the Big Local listings with the exception of their Utah location. This must have been done in the last few hours as I was still seeing their results as late at 4:30p this afternoon.

  10. Cavan

    Thanks for the heads up. Sure enough every last one is gone. I don’t think that these came through the bulk upload but via one of Google’s data suppliers not that we will ever really know.

    Mike

  11. Hi,

    I think this is really a junk out there as since, many of those listings look like they are a perfect cake which is ready to be eaten!!!

    But these many listings are really a spam so its better to go the natural way than using the black hat process. :)

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