I have received several reports from the locksmith industry (who else?) and elsewhere of a new “black hat” ranking tactic that seems to push listings to the top of the 7 Pack by using a Wikipedia webpage as the Map’s landing page.
I had noticed this as well when researching the recent addition of what I’m calling “Landmark Icons”, along with Place Pages.
Google Maps seems to’ve given great weight to Wikipedia pages in order to help them to find a reputable source for places which are not businesses. So, for business listings which do not have websites associated with them, Wikipedia pages have begun showing up as the authoritative pages in some cases. I’ve seen this happen, apparently accidentally, with some businesses which share names with Wikipedia articles, such as in the cases of some doctors and attorneys.
Also, business names which include names which are Wikipedia articles appear to be getting Wiki data sucked into their Place Pages. For instance, check out “attorneys, santa barbara, ca”, and there is a business named “Attorney Service-Santa Barbara”. On its Place page, there is text from the Wikipedia article for Santa Barbara.
I am working on a report currently and have found that wikipedia has been erroneously linked as citations and user content and has put a listing who isn’t even in the same city with few other reviews and citations in the top 3.
They seem very motivated to manipulate the flaws in Maps and find new ones. They work very hard for the money they steal.
Comment by Mike (2503 comments) — December 7, 2009 @ 5:09 pm
I think you all are right. However, there is a big difference between using Wikipedia as your primary URL & getting it as a web reference to your listing.
SEO rules are the same as Local SEO rules- associating your site/ listing with a major, great-credibility web sites, is good for your internet marketing actions.
The locksmiths listings in Toronto are almost empty from data, except the Wikipedia strong URL they got.
This is an intense spam activity!
Hundreds of those kind of listings are on the way to the packs in the GTA metro. Let’s see what Google will do with this issue. (hope they’ll not kick me out again )
Comment by PureSheer (134 comments) — December 7, 2009 @ 6:27 pm
[...] Google Maps – New abuses via Wikipedia landing pages?, Mike Blumenthal [...]
Mike, I just found your blog while searching for some help with a Maps listing. I find it really funny that locksmiths seem to be at the forefront of manipulating Google Maps. I’m in Ireland and I created a maps listing for a customer (locksmith), and the address in the listing has mysteriously changed to the address of a competitor – and it’s not updating when I make changes in my LBC panel. I’ve posted in the Maps forum and am waiting for a response, but thought I’d share this experience – it’s not just in the US that the locksmiths get up to mischief.
Update- Great, Mike! Google probably cleaned up the Wikipedia listings from the 7 pack right after you published this article. Now there are other spamy listings. Let’s see how it goes.
You are doing a sacred job!!
i guess Google have a 24/7watch on your blog
Comment by PureSheer (134 comments) — December 11, 2009 @ 12:48 am
BTW- i just checked & it seems that Google cleaned up all the Locksmith-Wikipedia listings in the GTA metro area from their index!!!
Comment by PureSheer (134 comments) — December 11, 2009 @ 12:51 am
Let’s try to see the bright side here with all those ‘Israeli scammers’- I think it’s good that the abuses are mainly in the Locksmith industry & not in other, much more important & crucial fields such as hospitals, insurance, etc.. Google is learning a lot from the breakthroughs that coming from the Locksmith field & implement the corrections in all their index.
Anyway, some of US Israeli Locksmiths are actually nice & revealing the secrets of cracking the algo of Google Maps to Google Maps Guides.
I think you need to be much more tolerant & optimistic when writing such things in a blog.
but, this is only my opinion.
Take it easy!!
Comment by PureSheer (134 comments) — December 11, 2009 @ 11:52 am
Are you saying that the listing was hijacked? Could you share the Places URL?
The address in the listing is “Main Street, Leamhcán, Co. South Dublin, Ireland?” however this is actually the address of a competitor. The address I originally setup is “Main Street, Tallaght, Co Dublin”. I’ve been informed that “Leamhcán” is the Irish name for “Lucan” which is a town several miles to the north of Tallaght. When the owner of the business informed me of the wrong address I looked in my LBC and the correct address was displayed there, so it doesn’t look like anyone accessed my LBC. The funny thing is, the placement on the map is where I put it, just the address reads differently. The owner tells me he is friendly with the guy who owns the business at the displayed address so he doesn’t suspect him of any wrong doing. Any thoughts?
There is a company called “Protect Your Home” (a dba for “Defender Security” based in Indianapolis. This company is a national call center, direct mail and telemarketing business for ADT and has created thousands of fake local addresses, fake local phone numbers (that forward to their call center, fake domain names (that forward to their main websites, fake advertising (using ADT instead of their real name), fake sales promotions and fake business claims (they are not members of the Better Business Bureau).
All of the listings show up on Google Maps Local Business listings and typically occupy 6 or 7 of the top local listings. I’ve notified Google Maps REPEATEDLY about this spamming, but to no avail. I believe ADT or Defender Security is paying Google to list these fake addresses and fake phone numbers on their local business listings. It is certainly annoying for many truly local business who can’t get listed on Google maps.
Thanks god mike . you have noticed it . in my town spammers are creating listing for various places which has wikipedia page , e.g – lockersmith in south kensington. (South kensington has wikipedia page) and google giving more score wikipedia citation than others . this is how they are ranking on the top . Google should value all the citation equally
Comment by GLS (1 comments) — December 17, 2009 @ 12:23 pm
I made a post on my blog about a phone call I received from a locksmith who wanted many Google maps listings done. He freely admitted that ALL the addresses would be fake. I refused to do it and he told me everyone does it. Warned him he would eventually get caught and his listings taken down. Looks like he found someone to do it for him. I wonder if he does a credit card charge back after the work is done?
Google maps listings are getting more and more spammy all the time and REEKS of fake information. I have seen many complaints about merged and high jacked listings as well. Google really needs to do something about it. Maybe claiming listings should be discontinued due to all the high jacking that is going on. There are also MANY listings that break TOS and there they are on top. It’s really a shame.
Pretty soon getting on the first page of G will mean nothing if your listings get pushed to the back burner by spammers, merged listings, high jackers and the constant algorithm changes that blow all your hard work out the window. They are getting sued right now for manipulating the search results.
Seriously thinking of getting out of the G maps biz and sticking with SEO and web design. Getting top organic listings is a better option because it’s the first place a user lands when searching for products and services. People don’t always click on maps. I rarely do unless I’m checking on a client’s listing. Organic listings get a higher number of clicks than Adwords. However, don’t depend on just the search engines for traffic. There are other fish in the sea as a means of getting people to your website.
I’ve been using Bing lately for all my searches where I get better and more relevant results. Slowly gravitating away from Google unless things change. They may big bigger and the most used, but not the best any more in my opinion.
Comment by Barb (5 comments) — September 19, 2010 @ 10:42 am
[...] The Places search ranking algo has always had a strong component predicated on the authority of the website referenced in the Places listing. This was why, as Chris Silver Smith pointed out, a Wikipedia URL was a successful Maps hack. [...]