Google Maps: Multilingual Mapspam in LA

Last week I interviewed a lawyer from LA that had been banned from Maps for multiple listings with invented addresses. I followed up with some examples of the Mapspam that were dominating the Local OneBoxes in the legal and plastic surgery industries in Southern California.

Matt Cutts & Maps Guide Jen responded that this type of Mapspam should and would be penalized. The good news was that over the last week, Google took down most of the reported examples (although the brain injured lawyer Los Angeles mapspam still returns an authoritative Local OneBox…maybe Google finds it as funny as I do).

However, Google’s hand editing of the index is not really a cure for these types of abuses. I realized that Los Angeles was a multilingual town. Our Hispanic brethren might have just been experiencing the same kinds of Lawyer Mapspam if Google had not been thorough in their cleansing efforts. 

My search for Abogados de Inmigracion Los Angeles turned up this Authoritative OneBox:

Tip: Search for English results only. You can specify your search language in Preferences

Jacobson & Han LLP – Immigration Attorneys (Abogados de Inmigracion)     

553 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Get directions

More information »
Open Weekdays 8am-12pm, 1pm-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm


Just today in the Google Maps for Business Group there was a posting from Helen in Spain that indicated Google was preventing multiple listings at one address even for legitimate multi-lingual reasons. Was the OneBox above a legitimate listing or was it just the tip of the proverbial Mapspam iceberg?

You  just have to love LA and Google Maps. In this case, the law firm even manages to misspell “abogados” and provide an excess of Adword’s listings. This firm has managed to enter his firm at the same address at least 6 times and that is just in English and Spanish and one specialty. I didn’t check the many other languages that might attract immigration  traffic in LA:

Search: Jacobson Han near 553 S Olive St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

There are more listings at this address that seem to appear under other searches:
Jacobson Lawyer 553 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA
 LA Spanish Mapspam

And the firm seems to have multiple listings at other offices throughout Los Angeles. See: lawyer loc: Los angeles

They also seemed to be very aggressive in their adwords approach:
(il)Legal Adwords Spam in LA
The takeaways:

1)At this point Google will remove certain types of spam but only when notified.

2)Even when notified, they seem to only deal with the specific listings and don’t look any further. Clearly in all of these cases where multiple listings were at a single address there was a strong pattern of industry and locale with easily identifiable search strings. If I can dig them out with no tools and no access to the underlying data, they could have easily done a more thorough cleansing.

3)There are certain times when there is a legitimate need for more than one listing at an address as in a multilingual situation.

We are experiencing a certain Cowboy Capitalism in the embryonic days of Google Maps. The “No Holds Barred” approach to listings in an effort to achieve results squeezes legitimate listings out and will mislead and deceive consumers.  

Predictable rules and regulations are a must for any business to invest in the medium and do so with confidence. Clean, high quality listings are a requirement for the public to embrace Maps and that apparently will not happen with the current rules. Clearly, if there are rules, Google has not been forthcoming about what they are.

This is not a problem that the market (unsuspecting individuals looking for service) can solve. Google needs to step up to the bar and implement clear, transparent guidelines for businesses to follow. They need to prevent the abuses at the initial listing level and additionally have a proactive internal campaign to look for and remove spam when it is does enter the system.

Either Google self regulates or as a poster pointed out in a previous comment, the FCC or some other regulatory body will step in and do so as Local works its way into the everyday lives of everyday people.


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: Multilingual Mapspam in LA by

8 thoughts on “Google Maps: Multilingual Mapspam in LA”

  1. Hi Dave

    Are you asking how they should or could catch this stuff? I am not a programmer and they have a few good ones on staff so I am not sure they need my 2 cents. But what the heck, what is blogging all about if not shots from the cheap seats. 🙂

    Certainly a little more verification in the LBC on the front end would make sense. A human review if certain conditions were triggered.

    In the cases I’ve looked at there have been a number of common factors that would allow someone to flag suspicious records manually ie lawyers with more than one listing at the same phone number, more than one listing at the same address….I don’t have very good tools to access the data but they must and I am sure that they have some database jockeys that are more than up to the task.

    One thing that is of interest to me that I have found is that certain of their search commands like the site: command do not always return all eligible records.


  2. Mike.

    What about the situation I had, where there were several offices within the same building and suite number?

    Are you suggesting that only one business can have a Local listing if it is in the same suite? It is very common to lease just one space within a larger office in cities like LA for example?

  3. PanzerMike

    No, I am suggesting it as a technique to ferret out listings for more scrutiny and possibly as spam.

    Above I said 3)There are certain times when there is a legitimate need for more than one listing at an address as in a multilingual situation.


  4. In my opinion, the local business center should give a possibility to add any data in different langauages. They (Google) have to lead the correct language version to the searchers for their used language by typing a search term.

    Imagine you have a hotel and you want to describe it in the LBC for more than one countries.. someone from spain searching for hotels in your city will get a spanish description and someone from italy will get an italian description.

    One requirement to have this option could be, that google looks for your website content’s language first.

  5. Hi Mike, so what is the definitive answer to multilingual entries at the same address?

    Is it authorized, encouraged, tolerated or banned by Google?

    Our business represents totally different keywords via english and french

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