Google Spam Hall of Shame

This week’s Google Spam Hall of Shame nominee achieved a double double score in the race to be nominated and secure this week’s nod. The offender has 13 words (96 characters)1 in his business title and somewhere north of 20 fake reviews.

I discovered the listing via my on-going review spam research and I loved his name so much that I had to give him this week’s award. Let me know if you agree.

With a name like “Photo Experts, Los Angeles Headshots Photographer Scanning Lab, UPS Shipping, Notary, Money Order“, how could you NOT do business with them?

And their incredible review profile, seals the deal.

Many of the reviewers fit the clear pattern that I identified in my review spam article. If it isn’t obvious, Google didn’t dig very deep with the data that I originally provided them2.

Andy B. Brian is among them. One can only surmise, given how obvious the pattern is and how easy it would be to take down the whole network with a little bit of code, that Google currently just doesn’t give a s&!t.

Given the number of fake Google reviewers, one has to be somewhat suspicious of his Yelp profile as well.

The Runner Up this week was Window Cleaning Company Houston (Window Washing Company), while they got extra points for squeezing the word “window” AND the word “company” in twice, and for having 78 fake, five star reviews, the fact that their business name was only 56 characters left them out of the victory circle.

1 – Am I going to have to go and figure out the field limit? Sheesh… you folks are falling down on the job.

2– It’s amazing how trusting and naive that I am. Having given Google 100 obvious spammers, with an easily coded rule to find more of them, I just assumed that they would spend a few minutes, write the code and zap 20,000 reviews. Although I was hoping that the number might be as high as 100,00. Heck I had done the hard lifting. Boy am I gullible.

You would think that I would have learned by now. I remember, I think it was 2008, when the then head of Google Maps told me that they had left the spam in so that they could “train their system” who the bad actors were and that soon (very soon) they would have a handle on it. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath. 

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Spam Hall of Shame by

11 thoughts on “Google Spam Hall of Shame”

  1. I love that you are bringing this spam to the forefront Mike. I work in the legal vertical and the spam is certainly prevalent, folks still trying to game with virtual offices as well.

  2. I don’t know that I am a fan of outing people for listings, I guess I would feel different if people were beating me in my niche with it, but I like how you seem to have taken the approach that everyone is fair game.

    In that case, I say go for it!

    I honestly believe these types of listings actually make us better at what we do. We can accept the challenge and beat out spam listings with white hat techniques we know are long term and effective. Or, we can spend our day monitoring what other people are doing and giving that information to Google like 5-year-old tattle tales.

    To each his/her own I guess.

    Now, from a learning perspective, I think that we as SEO’s don’t know where the standard is if we don’t push the limits of what we do. That is how good testers figure out what is correlating with rankings, by pushing the limits.

    And, while I don’t agree that fake reviews should be used for any business, I get what they are doing there as well.

    I would be curious to know why Google hasn’t done more to stop fake reviews, however, I can imagine that in a worldwide economy where people from all over can buy products from pretty much anywhere as more and more business owners embrace e-commerce, surely location alone can’t be relied on.

    1. @Clint
      Why do I feel comfortable sharing spam that I see?
      1- Consumers deserve to know who is real and who isn’t in their dealings with these businesses
      2- Every deception degrades the ecosystem as a whole for many people; consumers, businesses and agencies
      3- consumers lose faith in all if a few cheat. They should know who they are calling and what how they are perceived
      4- Businesses that should be showing are not
      5- Agencies have a harder job making sure their clients achieve the visibility they deserve
      6- The environment/markets is only beneficial and only works for businesses and consumers if there is fair play.
      7- for whatever reason Google has chosen to not self regulate adequately and of all of the players, they need to help to account

      You noted that you report this only when your client is impacted. Well I report it if any client anywhere is impacted. I see this fundamentally different than web spam. A website is just a website. It’s much harder for someone to go their and be deceived and taken advantage of. Google Maps is portrayed as an independent arbiter of navigation and businesses. Consumers trust it and they should not be expected to be able to learn to parse which ones are criminals, which ones are cheaters and which ones are honest if Google claims (by implication) that they are already doing that.

      Either the product is fit for service or it isn’t. If the roads are wrong it doesn’t work for navigation. And if the businesses are wrong it doesn’t work for business discovery. Google can’t have it both ways.

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