LA Dog Bite Lawyers in a Cat Fight over Maps

On May 7, 5:52 pm, “Maps Guide Jen” notified a poster, panzermike, at the Google Maps for Business Group that his business listings had been banned from Maps for the “foreseeable future”: 

Hi panzermike,

I had a look into your account. Your listings aren’t appearing because removed them from Google Maps. At this time even though you’ve reversed spam attempts, you’ve been blocked for the foreseeable future. I won’t be able to answer any additional questions about your listings.

– Maps Guide Jen

Yesterday, the poster Michael P. Ehline, P.C (aka panzermike) posted a comment at this blog:

I was removed from Google maps for mapspam after a guy I hired did all sorts of bulk uploads for the same address who I paid goo money. One of the listings was to a park!! (I found out later).

In all events, Google allows other businesses to claim your listing. Pretty sneaky. I think I discovered a guy who did that to me and went to the Maps group for help. Instead, a forum troll reported me as a spammer and I was removed from Maps.

I fired the webmaster who set up maps for me. Too late, Maps Jen says I am out for the “foreseeable future”. I have suffered at least a 30 percent drop in business.

What’s worse, is that the other sites my guy copied are all still submitting multiple listings for the same location, using multiple mirror sites with different url’s, submitting fakes firm names, that are really keyword names, and are totally controlling all the traffic from Maps.

Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps and to get Maps to enforce its rules in a just manner, rather than the arbitrary and capricious manner they enforce their rules now? It really killed my phone.

Don’t you think they should offer amnesty or a second chance?

I was intrigued by the situation and emailed PanzerMike to see if he wanted to bring his case to a larger audience. So I am providing an interview with him and putting his question to the readers of this blog: Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps? Do you think Google should offer amnesty or a second chance?

Here are his responses to my interview questions:

Me: I am reading your post and it raised several questions for me…You can choose to answer none, some or all of them. If there is something you don’t want me to publish let me know.

Me: What is your firm name?

PanzerMike: Law Offices of Michael P. Ehline, P.C.

Me: What is your role in the firm? 

PanzerMike: Accident, DUI, business torts, criminal defense,  Marine Corps. disabled veterans mentor.

Me: What type of legal firm is it? 

PanzerMike: Personal Injury, criminal defense

Me: Do you post to the Group as panzermike? Anyone else?
 
PanzerMike: Only panzermike

Me: Is the webmaster the person who did the bulk upload? When you say you paid good money what was the deal with your webmaster as you understood it? What did he promise and what did you think you were buying? Can you share his company name (even off the record)?

PanzerMike: I asked if he could copy what firms like Farzam law was doing.  I am a natural language SEO guy and write tons of articles and do videos.  I did not understand how maps worked.  He said he did and he could match farzam.  He did and I got great rankings. 

I do not want to share his name, because he is also a client of my firm!!  Abe Lincoln said it best, “avoid litigation at all costs” (especially when you can be reported to the State Bar for breach of confidence)

I will never recommend him.  But if you look around, I think you can guess the other firms who hired him. 

Me: How many postings did you make? when? How long did they stay up before Google took them down?

PanzerMike: I dont really know how many postings were made. I did not make them all. All I know is there were many upoloads and a lot of them had bogus addresses that were similar to mine. One was actually to a park!! I removed them all and only have one for each address now.

Me: Do you have more than one location or just one?

PanzerMike: I have more than one business location.

Me: Where the postings to areas out of your geography?

PanzerMike: No.  Only where I maintain locations.
 
Me: What search phrases were you attempting to place on? 

PanzerMike: Anything accident, dog bite, motorcycle accident, cruise ship accident or injury related with the keywords “Los Angeles”.

Me: Were you finding that Google Maps was returning more calls than yellow pages? than other advertising?

PanzerMike: It was unbelievable.  I had to hire someone to help me due to the incredible amount of calls I was getting!! That is when I took an interest and started learning data mashing, which led me to read the Maps rules and then start questioning my web master’s tactics.  I am still in shock that after I came clean and exposed all the weaknesses in Maps that they still won’t let me back in. 

Totally unfair.  Maps has so many holes to exploit.  And when everyone else is doing it and not getting punished, it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily enforce the rules to my detriment.

The main problem is using keywords for the firm name and allowing firms to use mirror site urls to confuse the results.  Google Maps should shut down the ability of the title to having ANY significance.  Google Maps is creating a huge windfall to my competitors.  I know all those calls I was getting are now going to guys who SPAM!!

Me: Was your communication with Jen via email or via the group? Would you share it with me?

PanzerMike: Both.  I will share any communications I had with Jen so long as you agree to keep my e mails to her confidential.  I have been reporting spammers like crazy and not interested in retaliation.

Me: It is difficult to claim the listing of another business. Why do you think this has happened? Do you have a specific listing that you know someone hijacked? 

PanzerMike: I have an office in the same building with a different suite number as the guy who was compromising my listings.  Another attorney apparently uploaded/copied “Los Angeles Cruise Ship Accident Attorney” (My Listing) and then when Google asks/says there are other business with a similar name, is this your listing?, You need only say “yes” and cick.  I think it was done to me because all of a sudden his data was merging with my data, so his url was showing under my phone number and vice verse.

Again, I can only deduce.  So far, Jen, God bless her soul, is the only person at Google who actually was kind enough to at least tell me I am banned now.  I note that Yahoo! has a phone number you can call and they are awesome with customer service.

Me: Which site is this? What are their listings? Do you have a URL that can help me see which listings are theirs?

PanzerMike: I sent at least 15 or 20 examples of law firms who are doing this to Jen.  Again, ok to speak directly to her.  She is rad.  I gotta say, this is the first time I have ever seen Google engage in what is commonly known as customer service.  lol.  (Sorry guys, but for a publicly traded company, you aren’t making me want to run and buy stocks)

But for example, do a search for: “Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney”  then do one for Los Angeles car accident attorney, los angeles auto accident attorney, attorneys, etc., you will notice that there are multiple firm names that are all false and that they are usually multiple urls’ all to the same mirror site.  It is absurd. 

There is a law firm that advertises 25 locations.  So I could understand one listing for each location.  But are you kidding me?  MUltiple url’s, multiple listings for the same address, etc.   Way more abuse than I ever engaged in.  Good grief I got banned when I complained about problems such as this.  Should’ve kept quiet.  Right? 

dog bite lawyers near Los Angeles, CA

car accident lawyers near Los Angeles, CA

wrongful death lawyers near Los Angeles, CA

Me: I realize that this is lots of questions. If you would care to answer them I would consider writing a longer article. If not I will just publish your post and respond to it there.

PanzerMike: It’s ok.  I pray you can help me get back into Maps.  With my mastering of the data mash, I feel I can dominate with no need for spamming.  And again, I am really grateful to Jen.  No one would even tell me if I had been banned, so I was deleting and uploading, trying to get my listings live, assuming it was a computer or data issue. At least it saved me from wasting any more time.  Ya know?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
LA Dog Bite Lawyers in a Cat Fight over Maps by

41 thoughts on “LA Dog Bite Lawyers in a Cat Fight over Maps”

  1. Ah but you didn’t answer the question: Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps? Do you think Google should offer amnesty or a second chance?

    Do you think this fellow has a leg to stand on?

    Mike

  2. I’d let him back in.

    On the other hand I haven’t been looking at spamming local records. its evidently far more egregious than what you report or what is found at google groups.

    frankly its fascinating. I wonder how one would find all this stuff. Also, it appears it works in generating calls per his interview.

  3. I have been looking at LA lawyer spam all morning and even without his records, what is left is pretty amazing.

    He is very upset at the “loss” of business since his records have been removed. He had to lay off the extra person he brought in to deal with the volume generated from his Map’s success. I pointed out that it might be looked at as having been a temporary gain, he didn’t see it that way.

    Mike

  4. “[MikeBlumenthal]: How many postings did you make? when? How long did they stay up before Google took them down?

    PanzerMike:I dont really know how many postings were made. I did not make them all. All I know is there were many uploads and a lot of them had bogus addresses that were similar to mine. One was actually to a park!!”

    That sounds like a pretty clear case to me. I’m just voicing my personal opinion right now, but Mike: I find it odd to beat up Google for not taking enough action on mapspam, then beat up Google on the other side when we start taking stronger action on mapspam.

    “it doesn’t make sense to arbitrarily enforce the rules to my detriment.”

    But it does make sense to enforce the rules, and I think enforcing the rules more is the best thing for map users and for businesses that use Google Maps. I’ve been talking with the Maps team and we’ve even discussed this case. I would 100% support taking stronger action on mapspam, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see more effort in this area in the future.

    If a business is concerned that they might be removed from our listings because of bad behavior (e.g. multiple listings for the same business), then I would say to check out your listings and clean them up now if there are issues. I wouldn’t be surprised if Google starts taking stronger action on spamming map data in the future.

  5. Thanks for the comments, Matt. Is there a way that you define acceptable versus unacceptable multiple references to a local business, be it via Google Maps or via organic rankings?

    Dave

  6. Hi Matt:

    Thanks for taking time to comment.

    Mike: I find it odd to beat up Google for not taking enough action on mapspam, then beat up Google on the other side when we start taking stronger action on mapspam.

    I am not sure to whom you are referring, him or me but I am of the opinion that his arguments are self serving and disingenuous. The idea that he could do it because everybody else is doing it, is not an argument that carries much weight. Ultimately he is responsible for the work done in his name whether he did it or not.

    I too would also love to hear a clear statement as to what the rules are for what is spam and what isn’t and what the penalties are.

    Mike

  7. That’s good to know. During a few parts of the interview I felt like you were giving this fellow “air time” after he’d said that there were multiple listings with bad data. Certainly the argument that “other people were spamming, so I thought I would” carries very little weight with Google.

  8. So I have one question. What was the violation? Was it utilizing a keyword stuffing type tactic or was it putting locations at parks? Because Mike Jones has openly stated at conferences like SMX Local 07 that if you want to be found in another city simply point your address to a park.

    I think the only logical and final answer would be a more advanced algorithm based on more factors. For instance I am working on one with some 1300 or so HyperLocal sites I am planning on launching in June or July which cross reference listings with addresses and business zones and much much more.

    The obvious fault is people who serve multiple cities and want to be found on Google Maps. The obvious way to avoid spam is to take a lot of the ranking influence out of the webmaster or listing owners hands. Perhaps if the web reference which is the same as a link to local listing contained a nearby city in surround text or tags. I have been working all kinds of variations of my own algorithm and would love to see Google implement more tactics to help avoid mapspam and increase user experience.

  9. I agree with matt cutts that a business owner needs to check up on his listings. I agree google had the right and duty to ban me.

    But I wanted to point out that I paid a guy to do this for me. That was my biggest mistake. Mike blumenthal pointed out that the mass spamming was inexcusable. I agree.

    This prompted me to learn maps. I took measures. I ended the spam. I reported the people I paid my former web master to copy.

    I think mike saw how extreme it was.

    I just want you all to know that I spent several years of article writing, reading matt cutt’s blogs and optimizing my site. Maps came along and guys with crappy low pr sites took over the top.

    I did exactly what they did. Maps was still a new technology. I hired a person to optimize it. I learned my lesson. guys with crummy sites in less relevant geographical areas are getting my business due to mass spamming.

    I agree all spam should be stopped. But I did not even know I was mapspamming till I came to the forum and got called out by a member then I learned mashing and read the maps rules. I was shocked. My webmaster said no problem don’t worry.

    I termed him. All I know is that I have fought hard to tell my side and earn the privilege of getting back in. I think blumenthal and cutts can agree that of all people I am the last person who would ever engage in mapspam intentionally.

    All I am asking for is a chance to get back in. I am even willing to pay. It has hurt my business. Blumenthal brought up that I got a windfall. But in reality, when guys with crappy sites got that great map at the very top next to their name, they got the windfall. I only wanted to get where they were.

    In all events, I am licking my wounds and leave my firm and family and employees at the mercy of google maps. Semper fi. /s/ mike

  10. Just to enlighten every one here. I did not know the guy I hired was mapspamming.

    I never said it was o.k. to spam because everyone else was, and have no idea how anyone arrived at that conclusion either? That is simply unfair to say. Being a former Marine, I am willing to take responsibility for things I said, but not that.

    In fact, when I determined the guy I hired was doing it I fired him. I also removed the bulk uploads. These are all things Matt Cuss said he expects a responsible business owner to do.

    So please don’t mis characterize what I really said. And I really did not know, nor do I know of that many business owners who would know what mapspam was/is.

    The maps rules are very ambiguous. The problem for me is the way I learned costed me a lot of business and now put me in Matt Cutt’s cross-hairs. Not where I wanted to be I can assure you all!!!

    Google made it possible for me to expand my business and there is no way in hell I would EVER do anything intentionally to piss them off. In fact, that would be literally biting the hand that feeds me!!

    So all I ask is that like the king of Thai land, Google act in an equitable manner and reconsider me for inclusion into Maps.

  11. Response by pazemikeIn response to Steve Espinosa. The spamming involved the guy I hired doing bulk uploads of multiple listings for the same address.

    he also submitted totally bogus addresses. One was to a freakin park!! He said he was an seo expert with local and I paid him almost ten grand.

    Again, I learned about this after coming to the maps forum and was told by a form member I was spamming.

    At first I was defensive. I read the maps rules, spoke to the webmaster. he said it was fine and that is how to get premier positioning.

    Listings then disappeared and here we are.

    I am a responsible business owner. If I wasn’t I would not be here of my own accord risking the wrath of Matt Cutts and the Maps team.

    It took me almost three (3) years to get good page rank and natural language placement through writing articles, making videos, blogs, etc.

    Now that I finally understand Maps, I am banned. I never said, nor did I imply it is ok to spam since everyone else does What I did say is that it was unfair to single me out after I actually came to the Maps forum for help with a Maps problem, and not ban the other people.

    So everyone out there. My advice. I would hire a guy like Mike Blumenthal to be your Maps Guide, rather than risking everything by paying someone else who claims to be an “expert”

  12. This was an amazing interview, Mike.

    I am seeing a couple of issues here.

    1) Panzermike, is, indeed paying for what his webmaster did after asking the webmaster to copy the tactics being used by his spammy competitor.

    2) As Matt says, Google is right to penalize such tactics. These tactics do not produce good, relevant results for the end user.

    3) Yet, I do see a cause for complaint on Panzermike’s part. Being banned ‘indefinitely’ is not a workable situation. It gives the erring siteowner nothing to work for or hope for in terms of any further dealings with Google, and I don’t think this obscurity serves Google well.

    The openness that is Yahoo and the brick wall that is Google continues to set the tone for small business owners’ feelings about these 2 entities. The lack of communication and lack of guidelines is very frustrating.

    In Panzermike’s case, asking to mimic a spammer was an unfortunate choice. But what about a business owner who really has no clue at all about how Maps works and hires a spammy SEO who abuses their trust and gets the business owner banned? Being told, “you’re banned indefinitely” would not be an illuminating or fair response to such a situation, in my opinion.

    But, systems without exceptions tend to harm the innocent as well as the guilty. I suppose this is the difficulty for Google in trying to control so large and unwieldy and entity as Maps.

    Again, Mike, really fascinating read.
    Miriam

  13. @Matt- PanzerMike is quite capable of hanging himself with his own petard so I didn’t want to be preachy in the format of the interview. From my point of view the facts speak reasonably well for themselves.

    I would also agree with Dave, Miriam and on this one issue with PanzerMike that the rules as to what is spam, are as yet an unspoken secret in Maps. The last time I asked Jen, I recall being told that Google did not want to formalize the rules as that would be too inflexible but that I would know it when I saw it…We all see these things differently and it may be time for google and every other local player to sit down and define what mapspam is.

    I would also agree with Miriam that a clear set of public Or semi-public guidelines for readmission would be appropriate.

    I would likewise support your more aggressive spam fighting in Local. For local’s future success, its content needs to be meaningful, fair and reflect our community’s realities and not become the snake oil salesman of the new millenium.

    @Stephan – I have been looking at the spam in that market and it seems to a combination of heavy keyword stuffing, heavy linking from domain specific mirrored sites, multiple keyword listings per location. In PanzerMike’s situation I presume that in addition to the above that some of the many listings were from bogus locations as well to get more coverage as he didn’t have as many locations as his competitor.

    @PanzerMike re I think blumenthal and cutts can agree that of all people I am the last person who would ever engage in mapspam intentionally.

    I don’t know that. I do believe that you have learned from this but I have no way of knowing that you would be the last person to engage in mapspam intentionally. Just like there is the possibility of evil Priests in this world there is the possibility of Marine Lawyers that have a cloudy view of reality. What was it that Shakespeare said? “Me thinks she doth protest too loudly”

    I also know that from where I sit, you should sit back, reflect, stop defending yourself publicly (enough already) and get on with the task of promoting your business in an appropriate way.

    Mike

  14. Mike/Miriam, imho, raised the most important point(s) here.

    1) Until when is Google going to continue to be a black, impenetrable box to all but the select few that know someone who can get them answers, or vent on a popular blog like this one and thus force a response? Matt, you make a huge effort to communicate with webmasters, but your company as a whole is a public relations disaster as far as communicating with stakeholders like SMBs.

    2) Google needs to understand that webmasters/site owners are its clients just as much as people buying AdWords are clients. If something doesn’t make sense or isn’t working properly, or a site randomly drops a few hundred positions (as one distressed business owner recently called me about), they need to be able to talk to someone. Webmaster relations aren’t a cost, they’re an investment in your branding and reputation.

    It’s such an irony that the company that controls the web’s most popular SERPs should give itself these reputation management issues…

    @Mike B/Matt: A hotel I work with has a hostel as well, and they used to have both sites on one domain. Result being that reviews for the hostel are mixed with those for the hotel, lowering the hotel’s average review scores. How in hell do we separate out the reviews? (Asking this in the appropriate Google Groups for Maps got me nowhere.)

  15. Hi Gab

    I strongly agree with you about the site owners as clients. I would take that thought one step further and propose that the Local Business Center users are the critical vanguard of their users and rather than fixing those bugs that they confront down the list, the make them a priority.

    Along the lines of your communication to SMB’s suggestion: Google Maps has had a Maps bug that conflates two records, usually when they are at the same address.

    Yet many posters in the Group and panzermike above, oblivious to the bug, assume that it was the evil work of an insidious competitor. Google has to my knowledge not officially acknowledged it. To their credit, they do respond when asked to fix it. But, to me, it makes sense for Google to be out front, leading on communicating about the issue and fixing these these types of bugs sooner rather than later.

    By the same token, it sure is the case that these extreme situations highlight the contradictions, and it is easy (for me at least) to back seat drive on Google’s behalf.

    Mike

  16. Thanks for clearing that bug up for me Mike. I was thinking that other guys were stealing my ten thousand dollars for two (2) months spot I had on Maps awhile ago. lol. (jk)

  17. @Mike Blumenthal,

    To answer your questions first:
    1. All I can suggest is that he move and change his firm name :)
    2. On first blush I tend to agree with @panzermike — there should be a “mea culpa” button just like the reinclusion request. It’s not unbelievable that one would hire an unscrupulous SEO who would hurt them without their knowledge.

    I want to be clear I’m aware of the Pollyanna stance in answer 2. We don’t know enough to be confident there wasn’t an intent to spam. And we don’t know how many bulk uploads against how many shadow domains or any of that.

    That said, I recall a discussion in which it seemed you were saying that Mapsguide Jen indicated that in the absence of rules anything goes.

    It’s not news that I think maps is half-baked. There are no clear cut rules and even when significant research is done to demonstrate ranking factors they still appear spammable.

    It’s the ultimate arrogance of Google to believe that “Don’t be evil” translates well at this level.

    And I feel @panzermike’s pain. I approached @Matt Cutts directly at SES and pointed him to a clearly spammy link network which dominates the SERPS for high-value phrases on spam blogs and advanced 3-way linking alone.

    They still outrank historically authoritative sources today.

    So where does it end?

    It doesn’t until the FTC gets involved.

    Google is synonymous with search. Buyers are moving online leading merchants there as well.

    Searchers don’t know the difference between relevance and spam… merchants don’t have another sales channel which touches as many buyers… and without guidance and an equitable response on Google’s part to incidents of abuse it doesn’t get better.

    It’s the merchants who are trying to play by the rules, as written, who get hurt.

    Spammers win.

  18. @Will

    I never used mirror sites or shady domains. The guy i hired used many different keyword names for multiple listings as 99 percent of all lawyers in LA do who actually rank in Maps.

    I was reading in a blog about this, that it is ok to use descriptive names for your business name. The rules arent clear.

    In any event, NWT said it must be your business name. Who knows?

    I like the idea of reinclusion request and i agree about crummy low pr sites dominating maps. No authority. Anyone can make a crummy site like “accident attorney zip code” for example and funnel business away from guys who spent years building authority sites like me.

  19. Mike:

    With reference to an earlier comment by you, it would be interesting to hear about what else you are seeing with regard to lawyer spam in LA and beyond and what terms you are looking at.

    Dave

  20. Ah funny you should ask (you should be my straight man more often :) ).

    I was planning on trying to finish that up by mid afternoon. Did you know that Pasadena Ca has one lawyer office listing in Google for every 16 or so residents. No wonder Dogs Bite Lawyers there.

    Mike

  21. Hey all, I just wanted to circle back by. Recently I’ve noticed Maps Jen venturing out of the maps discussion group and into the blogosphere to comment on 1-2 posts. I do take that as a big sign of progress, and my hope is that the maps team will not only take a strong stand on mapspam and look to close any loopholes, but that they’ll also continue to work on doing more and more communication.

  22. @earlpearl

    Not sure if you meant panzermike but here goes:

    Assume “Los Angeles” precedes each search. Assume you can replace attorneys with singular attorney and the same goes with lawyer/lawyers. Assume you can replace accident with “injury”

    dog bite attorneys

    animal attack attorneys

    auto accident attorneys

    car accident attorneys

    truck accident attorneys

    wrongful death attorneys

    burn injury attorneys

    brain injury attorneys, etc.

    You will notice a common theme:

    Keywords in place of firm names and mirror sites en mass

    There is at least one firm with multiple locations who uses keyword names for the firm name. There are at least 8 mirror site url’s this firm uses that all go back to the main host page. There are multiple listings per location.

    Fake firm names

    In order to spoof local results, some law firms are making up names that are not registered with the State Bar such as “accident attorney zip code”, “la law 24″, etc.

    The Maps rules are unclear if this is legal, but the California State Bar Rules are not unclear. This is misleading. Unethical from my point of view as well. It’s one thing to say you are a Los Angeles Dog Bite Attorney, it is entirely another thing to say you are a real corporation like “24 hour attorney, inc.”, as a hypothetical.

    In fact, I noticed several law firms such as “personal injury lawyer, inc.”, who claim to be a corporation, who were not even registered with the California Secretary of State as a corporation.

    The actual firm names of the attorneys are buried in art work. This is spoofing the natural language and the local results. I assume the names are buried in artwork to avoid “substantially similar” content penalties when the spider look for this for example.

    Hope this enlightens everyone.

    What Authority Sites?, “I Don’t Even Care”

    In the words of Alfred E Neuman above.

    Google took years to get a first rate algo for authority sites. Now, all you have to do is get a downtown address, create a three or four page web site, make up a bogus firm name that has the words attorney, or LA, for example, and voilla, you get a PR0 site next to a huge, colorful map at the very top of the search results.

    Now a site with no authority can literally monopolize what once took years to get. THE FIRST PAGE, first position at the VERY TOP.

    As an aside, when this happened to me, I simply had to get local slots. I noticed a drop in business and figured it out, local crummy sites all of a sudden were appearing at the top.

    So naturally, I hired someone to do the same for me. So think about it, guys with sites that took three or more years to build, with backlinks, articles, content, instantly are shut out to the benefit of NO authority sites who figured out all you need is a title, a bulk upload, and a super-pages listing.

    Check it out. Notice virtually every top slot in Maps is a low authority site with little meaningful content. I truly hope the Maps Team uses this info to make Google a better place. And not just for consumers and big business, but for the little guys like me who are the back bone of this country.

  23. Hi Matt

    Yes, Google’s reaching out does appear to be a positive trend which I noted here last week when Jen said just that.

    I am always appreciative of more information rather than less and am hoping that the responses are forthright & in internet time.

    And to all Googlers, WELCOME!

    Mike

  24. @Matt Cutts:

    Thanks Matt. I used to think you didn’t care about small businesses unless they were buying adwords or sponsored listings. The fact you are trying to fix this very serious problem with Maps that is hurting my business puts you in a new light in my eyes.

    If your ever in LA, let me buy you a beer or two. Semper Fi. /s/ PanzerMike

  25. I see a lot of comments asking what is mapspam and similar questions.

    This is easy. Ask these questions:

    1. Is the business real?
    2. Does it operate from the address in the listing?
    3. Does it match the address given on the website?

    Multiple locations are ok, if the business actually has a physical presence in the given locations. This information is probably listed on the company’s website as well.

    Google Local is for LOCAL search results. Yes, it’s a bummer I don’t show up for web design or internet marketing in my surrounding towns. I do show up for my town though, and it is accurate. I can use AdWords or a little old fashioned SEO to rank in my surrounding towns and leave my singular Google Maps listing to take care of my local SERP presence.

    @9 “Because Mike Jones has openly stated at conferences like SMX Local 07 that if you want to be found in another city simply point your address to a park.”
    I have yet yo attend a conference (hoping PubCon this year will be my 1st), and I have no clue who Mike Jones is, but that tactic sounds like spam through and through. I don’t think you should take everything said at a conference as Search Engine Gospel.

    I’m glad to see Google rolling up their sleeves and taking action with spam in Google Maps.

  26. Hi Jim

    The issue of what is mapspam is not as clear as I once thought. Certainly your suggestion is a likely starting point but just as an example, Google lists a number of florists in cities where they have a phone number but no physical address. Google also lists businesses that have an #800, use the local UPS mail stop for their local address. Both have a marginal local presence and Google has not banned either (at least yet) so it appears that Google’s definition might be different than yours.

    I am about ready to show some of the listings from the area, stay tuned.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Mike

  27. Mike,

    I see no problem with an 800 number, provided they have a physical presence at the location they list under.

    I do think having a physical location is necessary in order to preserve the local nature of this service. If this isn’t part of Google’s current policy, it should be.

    Like the blog, I’m all into local search.

  28. The only physical location they have is a box at the local UPS store. This was reported in December on in this article: MapSpammers Getting More Sophisticated and this spam still is in Google visible here. In fact it might be worse.

    In this case they have no real physical presence except a box that automatically forwards to their home office in Michigan.

    Glad you have enjoyed yourself here and welcome.

    Mike

  29. See I know a guy who has a UPS mailbox, in the town where he wishes to get most of his business. The actual location of his business is a town with less than 200 people, the UPS box town has a population of over 30,000.

    I can see validity in using the UPS location here for the purpose of marketing, it was the main reason for getting that mailbox in the 1st place, to give a physical presence.

    However,

    I would be disappointed to see 2 separate locations for his business. He should use his UPS address in this case and list his additional location using a custom field or something of the like.

    It also depends on what address(es) he lists on his website. They should match your listing.

  30. Mike,

    Just came across your site while doing research about Google Local Business Search/Maps. I have six physical locations for my law firm….and I’m so glad my SEO guy played by the rules for my listings on Google Maps/Local.

  31. Dear Buffalo New York Attorneys-

    I looked at your listings and they look ok. One area where you might be on somewhat thin ice according to Google’s new guidelines is in the these two guidelines:
    • Represent your business exactly as it appears in real life. The name on Google Maps should match the business name, as should the address, phone number and website.

    • Use the description and custom attribute fields to include additional information about your listing. This type of content should never appear in your business’s title or address fields.

    In adding your location to your listing you may have violated one or both of these quidelines. It is an area that Google has not as of yet clarified.

    I think you should be able to make the distinction of your offices as to location but I am not Google. You should consider filing DBA’s on the names and listing them in the phonebooks exactly as you have in Google.

    I lso notice that Google thinks you have 7 locations with 2 in Batavia. I would go in and claim that second Batavia record and suspend it.

    It isn’t clear why Google thinks your 8203 Main St address is approximate but I would also go into that record and move the marker to its exact location and perhaps change the name to Williamsville.

    Mike

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.