Flagged (and not) Waiting for Content Check

The Local Business Center status of being Flagged Waiting for content check is one that generates the most posts in the Google Help Forums.

Google has never clearly defined all of the situations that precipitate the message. The technique of line by line and word by word removal of the content and then resaving your listing usually allows one to figure out which word or field is the offending one. The flag may also be triggered by a bug or field limitation. It is known that too many CAPS, the use of the word Google, a url to Google sites, sexual, racsist or hateful language trigger the filter. Until now, it was not known that there were industry specific phrases that might trigger it as well. To further complicate the situation Google has individually made legitimate exceptions via the tortuous path of the forums.

This post in the Help Groups though highlights the process and problems with the status code as well as some of the bigger issues that Google confronts in creating a local index and their awareness of the issues.

I spied it last night at midnight, forwarded it to PureSheer who responded. His response then precipitated a near immediate and unusually forthright response from Google. This post captures all of the themes of Maps in a nutshell; the immature status of the LBC, some of the issues that trigger the Flagged message, the forum based support issues, the difficulties of legitimate business functioning in a spammy Maps world and Google’s work to harness the beast they have unleashed…

 

Google Help > Maps > Discussions > Problems and Errors > My account ws flagged for the phrase “mobile locksmith service”

 Question: My account ws flagged for the phrase “mobile locksmith service” Remove abuse

aaaprolocksmith 

Level 1
6/24/09
I opened up an account, brick and mortar local location, local service area, locksmith service in Nashville. The account wsa flagged and so I started stripping out keywords and categories until it was changed to “awaiting next update,” which means the content was approved. Then I added back the one category “24/7 mobile locksmith,” and the account was again flagged. I took out “24/7,” I took out “mobile,” I took out “locksmith,” I stripped that account to the bare bones and had to finally change the name before it again went back to being “awaiting next update.”
   What is so bad about “24/7 mobile locksmith service”

All answers

Puresheer 

Level 1
4:48 AM
 Mike CH (Google Employee) says this answers the question:

@aaaprolocksmith

This term “Mobile  Locksmith” was one of the firsts that Google blocked/ flagged while one using it. The reason- spammers! 1. you can thanks Usafe (see first reference below) that spammed Gmaps very strongly with this term in their categories & additional titles to their listings. 2. you can also thank the mega spammers from Florida (or wherever they are from) about the wide use they made with this term in ALL USA & Canada (see second reference below- Organic results, see all the first pages – most of them belong to the same spammy company). BTW- the term Emergency Locksmith is starting to be flagged as well; that happened in the last week.

My suggestion- don’t use  the flagged terms; the Locksmith industry is under the spot light & you don’t want Google to investigate your listing more than they are doing now (for Locksmiths).

 If this is the only ‘bump’ you encountered with Google in the Locksmith field- you are in a good position!

References:
[1]
maps.google.com
[2]
www.google.com
Do you think this answers the question?  Report abuse
Mike CH 

Google Employee
4:58 AM
Puresheer has it right. Try the query [locksmiths in new york] if you want to see something truly sad. We’re cleaning this up and appreciate your patience whilst we try and restore some sanity to the world of locksmiths-on-Google-Maps.
Do you think this answers the question?  Report abuse

The takeaways?

For users confronting the problem do what AAALocksmith did and start editing your record to determine what causes the message and see if you can live without it. If you can’t live without the offending words raise the issue in the Forum and request an exception.

For those of you handling multiple records realize that the Flag is not fixed and that Google is changing and tweaking it constantly to mitigate issues in the listings.

For Google, I would suggest that even if you don’t want to be explicit about the many things that trigger the message, you could at least communicate to the listers a more meaningful message and steps that they can take to solve the problem themselves. Doing so would minimize postings in the forum, increase user understanding & satisfaction and reduce the back and forth required to solve the issue.

A second suggestion would be to create a formal exception procedure with a clear access path for the user. This could function much like spam reporting and give those listers that have a legitimate reason to use all caps, or a Google Sites URL or an ambiguous word a way to have their listing ultimately posted in an accurate fashion.

To Google I also say: Good Luck. We are all looking forward to the day when the “innoculation” takes root and the system has developed enough “antibodies” to be resistant to the scourge of Mapspam.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Flagged (and not) Waiting for Content Check by

11 thoughts on “Flagged (and not) Waiting for Content Check”

  1. Excellent post. Very explanatory. Kudo’s to Puresheer for clearly identifying the specific problems, to the Google employee for being responsive and to you, Mike, for publicising the issue and making it clear.

  2. Thanks, Earl!

    It’s is exciting! But, still, look how we all (I think) are thrilled with the crumbs that are falling down from Google’s biscuits. Now it’s very clear for me- we are starving (for Customers Care in Google Maps!!).

  3. With regard to the specifics of locksmith spamming, it showing up in google, using data sources…and the whole package….

    I was tracking a data source for one of our businesses. I just came across getfave.com, which looks like a “mighty fine data source” to me. Wasn’t aware of it before.

    Anyways they have a list of most recent additions to fave.com.

    Guess what industry is populating the data source 😀

    check this out…

    Reflections Salonin Eugene, OR 33 minutes ago
    Reflections Salon Voted Register Guards 2009 ” Finest Hair Salon…
    Smart Buy Furniture Discount Centerin Lexington, NC about 15 hours ago
    Located just five minutes South of Winston Salem, NC in…
    Locksmiths Washington DCin Washington, DC about 18 hours ago
    we handle all locksmith calls in the DC/MD/VA area, we’re…
    Los Angeles Tile and Hardwood Flooringin West Hills, CA about 18 hours ago
    Zion Flooring Los Angeles (310)-736-1857
    Claudine Dunne, PsyDin Chicago, IL about 18 hours ago
    Claudine Dunne, PsyD is a clinical psychologist with a specialization…
    Locksmith Sacramentoin Sacramento, CA about 19 hours ago
    24 hour mobile locksmith in Sacramento, CA. We offer car…
    24/7 Locksmiths Mesain Mesa, AZ about 19 hours ago
    locks and locksmiths mesa az call us now for 24…
    Locksmiths Phoenixin Phoenix, AZ about 19 hours ago

    Locksmiths Washington DCin Washington, DC about 19 hours ago

    Phoenix Locksmithsin Phoenix, AZ about 19 hours ago
    We are a 24/7 Locksmith service company in Phoenix Arizona.
    Las Vegas Locksmithsin Las Vegas, NV about 19 hours ago

    Boston Locksmithsin Boston, MA about 19 hours ago

    Locksmiths Minneapolisin Minneapolis, MN about 19 hours ago

    Locksmiths Philadelphiain Philadelphia, PA about 19 hours ago

    Locksmiths San Josein San Jose, CA about 19 hours ago
    Locksmiths San Jose – call us for 24 hour locks,…
    Zion Painting and Drywall Los Angelesin West Hills, CA about 19 hours ago
    los angeles painting and drywall (310)736-1863
    Zion HVAC & Electrical Los Angelesin West Hills, CA about 19 hours ago
    los angeles electrician and HVAC (424)645-1162
    Zion Flooring Los Angelesin West Hills, CA about 19 hours ago
    los angeles remodeling, run by zion construction and design inc.,…
    Zion Plumbing & Heating Los Angelesin West Hills, CA about 19 hours ago
    LA’s premiere plumbing and heating service for all emergency, residential…
    Locksmiths Seattlein Seattle, WA about 19 hours ago

    Complete Locksmith Services Chicagoin Chicago, IL about 19 hours ago

    Locksmith Phoenixin Phoenix, AZ about 19 hours ago
    Have you found yourself locked out of your home or…
    Locksmiths Scottsdalein Scottsdale, AZ about 19 hours ago
    Locksmiths Scottsdale 24 hour locks, keys, and locksmiths in Scottsdale,…
    Locksmiths Tempein Tempe, AZ about 19 hours ago

    Lotta locksmith (B&M 😀 ) businesses all just hunkered down and provided a lot of updated data…that is gonna hit google maps, Yahoo and MSN local, etc.

    Even as google is working to “clean up” this stuff….the locksmiths and others are filling up the data sources that feed G Maps and others…w/more stuff.

    Look, at the lists. There appear to be others working to expand their penetration into G Maps and other locals…with expansions of names and services.

    IMHO, the system is primed for abuse.

  4. Ah, very illuminating information. I’m glad to take away from this that Google is keeping a special eye on the locksmith industry. That may be crumbs, but they’re good crumbs.

  5. Thanks Mike for the original posting. This is the most forthright I’ve heard anyone from Google. It’s a step.

    Now if we could get Google to NOT list all the folks with dozens of cities and hundreds of Zip Codes on their sites, that would be another huge step. Let’s hope…

  6. This actually explains a lot. I was wondering the same thing myself but didn’t yet stumble across the answer until now. I am curious as to why the spammers seem to have chosen Locksmiths as the category to go after. It would be nice if there was some easier way to determine which phrases are the flagged phrases so you didnt have to do so much a/b testing.

  7. Like another commenter said, the system is just set up in a way that it easily spammed. Without intial manual checks for excepting entries, they simply leave themselves open to this sort of thing.

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