Google Maps Desperation: What advice would you give?

I post in the Google Maps Help forums and regularly receive emails from other forum readers. I received this one yesterday asking for advice. 

Hi Mike,
I wanted to thank you for your contributions to the various, un-centralized (Mapspam) threads on Google about this topic. In a way, it seems like you are the only one reading the complaints!

I won’t bore you with the details, but I am another small business owner suffering because of a google-map manipulator/spammer. I have read your blog, and thank you for writing it.

Do you have any advice for getting Google to pay attention to the spam reports I have been sending in? At this point, my business is providing the only paycheck for my family of four, and the spammers are driving us out of business.

Thanks in advance for any help you could offer,

Laurel (bellastella)
Portland, OR

 

Besides Self-immolation in front of the Google’s Headquarters, what advice would you give her to get Google to pay attention?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps Desperation: What advice would you give? by

13 thoughts on “Google Maps Desperation: What advice would you give?”

  1. I would suggest sending Mike Blumenthal an email, in hopes that he would post it on his blog asking his readers to help out.

    Though not directly helping, this would allow for many other eyes to see the situation, and perhaps one of the first commentor will Stumble the post.

    Hopefully someone, somewhere with some sort of authority (cough* Google rep) will do something about this stuff.

  2. Seriously though, I know greatly the problem mapspammers create. It’s pretty bad in the hospitality industry (my current main area of focus).

    I know it’s a lot of extra work, but claim all the spam listings too. Change the info. It’s something of a temporary fix, but it helps in the short term. And believe it or not, a lot of spammers are kinda lazy. They don’t normally notice for some time.

  3. Mike: Based on your last 3 posts I’m not sure where to comment. In my view, its not just that Google doesn’t have customer service of any sort and seems to leave businesses with problems in the lurch, it is that Google has a Monopoly on Views for information. Yahoo and MSN/Bing have problems in their local systems.

    Yahoo seems to be correcting things with active customer service . I can’ speak knowledgably or even second hand with regard to MSN/Bing.

    The overwhelming issue though is that Google dominates the Search World.

    Specifically when I went to help others with these problems and spoke to those that fielded calls that were erroneously made to wrong numbers…..universally those that received the calls pointed to Google.

    That is where searchers go.

    Its a monopoly in terms of control of the search market. By not responding they are harming businesses and customers.

    The voices needs to be raised loudly. Google is arrogantly hiding behind its cloak of inpenetrability and impacting businesses, institutions and customers.

    Meanwhile there is a current irony in this. USAToday reported how both IBM and Google are courting the SMB world for growth of their technologies.

    heh. Google is ignoring the SMB world in the local business center…but it wants a growing portion of SMB’s spend on technology.

    hmm. If I was a buyer and couldn’t get simple customer service from Google…do you think I’d buy into their paid technology…such as Android or anything else they want to hawk.

    No Way. :D

  4. Hi Mike

    I think the problem boils down to the way Google structures its local data. When everything runs on algo’s, customer service is very hard to achieve.
    When I call, email etc for service, I expect an immediate or nearly immediate resolve to my issue. It seems Google is incapable of providing that specific customer support.
    If it was a question of money, they could outsource 1-900 numbers to a third party for support. Heck, this might even become another revenue stream for them. But I suspect that it’s not the money holding back customer service.
    Closer to the truth would be what you describe in a post about just collecting the map group posts and tweaking the algo from there.

    The lack of customer service in local/maps is Google’s achillies heel. The bulk of available or waiting online revenue resides in SMB’s. Something they seem to understand with the announced IBM tech partnership targeting SMB’s. If they cannot solve this problem, someone else will.

  5. @Josh
    I should not have to be Google’s leading edge of tech support nor their conscience, should I?

    @Earl
    re If I was a buyer and couldn’t get simple customer service from Google…do you think I’d buy into their paid technology…such as Android or anything else they want to hawk.

    The answer is some will and some won’t. Would you drop your Adwords if they were working even if they did screw you in Maps?

    @MikeOK

    It is hard for folks to understand and take to heart what you have just said.

  6. @Craig

    I agree with you about their approach. The question for me are two fold:

    1)Is the local data with the algo any better or worse than that created the infoUSA way?

    2)Can you really run local at an algo’s distance?

    Mike

  7. @”Maps Guide Mike“ ?- sounds catchy ??

    @ Earl

    I must say that even if the spam will be at the level it’s now, they’ll get some money from me. I’ll fight it & win it! But I’ll sure not excommunicate to use Google Maps. The world is not pink & to some things it’s taking a lot of time to reach a basic level of perfection or gap closing, that’s life..
    I’m defiantly not defending Google. I’m one of many that got severely heart from the mess in their maps, so don’t get me wrong.

    I can share with you this general info- many authorities are starting to react very seriously to the spam on the internet. I’m guessing that after a new sets of state or even federal laws will be published, Google, if they want it or not, will need to do a great clean up & act according to that (exactly as their customers will need to firstly do). Many spamy companies will be ‚“vanished“ from the Maps.
    It’s sounds ‚pink‘ but I can tell you that things are already started to move.

    So the great echo of this spam, will become the ‘main voice’ of what will happen. This could not be happened if Google was not so big & dominant, I think.

    (((FINGERS CROSSED!!!!)))

  8. I am a desperate man. Google keeps creating unverified listings for my existing, live businesses. The unverified listings are stealing all the “website data” from my live listings and after waiting well over a month and a half, not only does the data not merge into the live listings, existing data from the live listings actually merges over to the community edited unverified listings.

    No one ever helps ANYWHERE. It is a real bummer and I know I can’t be the only one. Carter, can you please help us?!

  9. Maps Guide Mike – heh heh.

    Craig’s point about math vs. elbow grease is beautifully summarized. That’s just what they are doing.

    In answer to Mike’s 2nd question:

    It would appear you can’t run Local at an algo’s distance if you want to have a real-time index. Google’s algo shows what has been historically deemed relevant to users’ queries. Local isn’t history. It’s what’s happening today.

  10. I think Google has all the solutions at the tip of their fingers. Why not go ahead and do the “business verified” thing that Yahoo went for? It does not diminish spam, it does protect your specific listing from manipulations – not to mention allows Google to earn a few more dollars.
    As for Laurel, I would suggest either shouting out wherever you can. Even on a daily basis. At a certain point you’ll get the required attention from the high priests of Google maps. If that doesn’t work – I guess it may go down to a if-you-can’t-beat-them-join-them kinda thing. Go ahead and create multiple listings, join the dark side and wake the spammer inside.
    The business listings, combined with the localized results are designed in a way that may be ok in a perfect world. Where everyone is nice and honest. I guess that’s Google’s perspective on the world. The real world is a cynical one, where people are willing to do anything to get ahead in the game.

  11. @Miriam
    I had not thought about local data in terms of freshness and time, that is an interesting point of view, conceptually. The data set is a continually changing entity which adds the obligation of timeliness to the requirement of truthfulness.

    @Jonathan
    Self interest is not a naturally predetermined human trait but it is one that is highlighted and reinforced by the context. Both the greater context in which Google exists as well as the product they have put forward accentuate that behavior. Not all folks need or want to play the game that way. There are other choices, not always easy ones, not always fun ones but they do exist.

    I think Google does see the impact that self interest has on their product and as pointed out above, is working to clean up the index with an engineering solution…not very satisfying to those of us that have closely followed spam over the past two years but but they are acting. In fact I heard from Laural (BellaStella) that things were dramatically improved from her point of view.

  12. @Mike: Amazing how Laural (BellaStella) thinks things are improved, but the average user sees them worse than ever.

    (1) Spam reports not acted upon quickly;

    (2) unverified listings stealing web data from live, verified listings and no data merge after community edits and waiting three plus weeks;

    (3) spammers still basically dominating 1, 3, 10 packs;

    (4) Spam reporting form that is onerous and difficult to use would explain any decline in spam reports. (Since you have to do a separate report for each keyword string you can spend hours reporting one business ranking for many terms)

    (5) Even sillier, even after Jen made it clear that a business must use it’s real business name, the vast majority of businesses ranking in maps are keyword stuffed business names.

    (6) Businesses with multiple listings for same address still dominate search results and are not removed as far as I have seen – in a reasonable time (using variations of phone numbers and keyword stuffed titles, reversing the business addresses, etc.)

    Dont get me wrong, Maps is awesome, but it appears certain people are out of touch with reality if they actually think things are better. Problems don’t get solved in a timely fashion. There is little or no help in getting problems resolved as there USED TO BE!

    This makes it a real bummer for guys like me.

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