Will David Mihm get lost in the Big Apple?

wrong-maps2Portland web designer and search consultant, David Mihm,  is heading to SES NY next week to speak. He was exploring Google Maps and he sent me this search: Morgan Library at 225 Madison Ave, NYC that he had looked up in anticipation of his trip. David noted to me that he “was looking forward to seeing the new Renzo Piano addition to the library …  I was sad to see that I would need to slog through a gauntlet of locksmith storefronts before I was allowed to enter.”  

In some ways the result encapsulates all that is not quite right with Maps. One can’t really extrapolate a generality from a specific but this single Map result does seem to capture many of the problems a given business might face while attempting to project itself into Google Maps…. 3 mapspam entries, one erroneously located drug store via a YellowPage error (it is really located at 225 Madison St) and the inability of Google’s clustering algorithm to correctly consolidate 4 listings for the Morgan Library all listed at the one address.  

The result probably won’t keep David from his desired rounds. In the end, with the big dance in full swing, I find it very unlikely that David would be exploring Renzo Pianos rather than glued to the TV protecting his pool investments. But who knows?

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Will David Mihm get lost in the Big Apple? by

12 thoughts on “Will David Mihm get lost in the Big Apple?”

  1. The wonderful news for all out of towners and natives alike—is that in the event of emergencies there appear to be about 8 locksmiths per block. Have fun, David.

  2. I’ve been following your blog with great interest since finding one day that a scam national referral company had received the top listing for nearly every key phrase that I’ve been paying adwords for by using a fake local address and a spammy name instead of their real company name. Once I figured out what was going on – that’s how I found this blog – I claimed my local listing. I was rewarded with a listing under the spammers for a week before it was inexplictly removed. Of course the scam/spam map stayed, with a huge listing at the top. This has devastated my small business. Never mind that this is bad for small honest locally run business, and bad for the consumer as well. What I can’t figure out is why would someone pay for google adwords when they can use deceitful black hat techniques to claim the top listings. I’ve paid adwords over $10,000 in the past three years, yet someone can spam/scam their way to the top listing for nothing! It would seem that Google is shooting themselves in the foot and losing potential adwords revenue by doing this. I read this blog every day for some glimmer of hope, but it doesn’t seem to be fore coming. I can only hope that one day they go to postcard verification. Thank you for your efforts, perhaps change will come one day.

  3. Yeah, earl is right, you might loose your sense of direction, but you’re all set if you loose your keys. And all those locksmiths standing on guard makes NYC the safest city on the planet. 🙂

    Unless your keeping all your valuables locked away in a safe, there’s a lot of people in your neighborhood that know how to crack it open.

  4. @Stever

    Yes it is all very disorienting….but if you do you loose your keys be sure that you have plenty of cash to pay for the $55 quoted job that comes in at $155.

    The solutions will not be quick nor will the path be smooth. They, for whatever reason, are tone deaf to the needs of the many small business people that are affected by this.

    The business and social case for Google to take care of this and quickly are strong…but there is no guarantee that they will be able to solve the problems.

  5. @ Samantha: The sad thing is that Google’s inability or unwillingness to tackle this consistent volume of spam is resulting in Google controlling who wins or loses on a commercial level. Google’s impact is allowing for a select few businesses to control all visibility from consumers, starve out the others…..and probably cost the consumer a pretty penny.

    All they have to do is turn off maps from appearing in organic serps.

  6. @Earlpearl
    Thank you for your input. It does seem that Google is in the know, as seeing that my local non spam listing was removed just one week later. Perhaps because I was a adwords customer is the reason that my listing was removed.This business even has a negative review from someone that actually tried to visit the fake address but when the listing shows up on the organic searches it does not show it has any reviews at all. If Google is indeed in the know, then not only is it perpetuating mail fraud, but a case can be made for this to be considered racketeering. I guess the real question is who do I bribe over at Google?

  7. One more comment before I go back to crying in my beer along with the thousands of other small business owners compromised by Google, lol but where are the attorneys? The whole set up just screams class action lawsuit!

  8. Mike,
    Seems that locksmith spam reached Philadelphia. A great ‘El vez’ restaurant was hijacked by a1locksmithphiladelphia.com (which ranks 3rd for ‘Philadelphia restaurants’ now. The ‘El vez’ listing seems to be claimed but still…
    The a1locksmithphiladelphia.com ranks 1st for ‘locksmith Philadelphia’ with all 94 reviews of ‘El vez’.
    Why Google is not banning these locksmith domains? This is getting ridiculous now..

  9. One thing I don’t think we will see is a successful class action law suit against Google for map spam. Google owns their results we just use them.

    They’ve provided good results (for the most part) in their organic search and people have come to expect this, but if tomorrow they decided to replace all the results with just Wikipedia results that would be their choice and the only thing anyone could do would be to go to another search engine.

    I am not defending Google here, I think they need to get this problem under control, I just don’t think anyone should hold their breath for a successful lawsuit around this.

  10. @Peter
    Yes, the hijacked restaurant and hotel listings are country wide. Although on a historical side note Philadelphia has been at the forefront of Locksmith Mapspam as the locksmiths were engaged in bulk upload spam prior to this tactic.

    Yes, class action suits given the protection provided by federal law is unlikely.

    Certainly society really can’t tolerate the ready theft of services and brands that Google has facilitated. The business case is strong for Google to handle this as there will only be increased public awareness and government scrutiny.

    On a related note. there is an interesting filing before the FTC currently about breaches of Google’s “secure” cloud applications. While it relates to individual, not business data, it points to increasing scrutiny of Google’s practices.


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