Google Spam Hall of Fame: Cheap Auto Insurance – #ShameOnGoogle

Google has the unique ability to look like they are doing something about systemic problems in Local when in reality it is just misdirection.

Spam reporting is but one flagrant example of this. I recently reported some obvious spam. Any effing idiot could see that it is spam and yet my edit was denied. #ShameOnGoogle

Curious, I called the number and it was clear that it was lead gen spam. After a set of qualifying questions from the auto attendant, it directed me to the corporate offices of Liberty Mutual in Orlando.

Obviously these are showing in the search results. So naturally I set aside all of 15 minutes and explored whether this was just a regional or nationwide “marketing effort”.

Clearly these are national in scope. #ShameOnGoogle

I called bogus listings in Cincinnati, Buffalo, Denver and Los Angeles (when I stopped looking) and was asked the exact same set of qualifying questions by the exact same automated attendant but each call led me to different actual AllState or State Farm etc agents around the country. Usually in the same state but often hundreds of miles away from the pin. Often the listings were not even verified.

Another flagrant example of Google’s misdirection is when I meet with Google about spam, I am often told “Show us the pattern” or “we can’t do anything if we don’t know the pattern” or “we are a search company and have a lot on our plate” or “blah, blah, blah”.

WTF? This pattern isn’t complicated, it isn’t hidden, it isn’t all that difficult to figure out… #ShameOnGoogle.

Google if you are reading this, here is the pattern: reported as spam, suspiciously spammy name, with exactly the same listings effing EVERYWHERE and they all ring into the same automated attendant.

Shame on you.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Spam Hall of Fame: Cheap Auto Insurance - #ShameOnGoogle by

13 thoughts on “Google Spam Hall of Fame: Cheap Auto Insurance – #ShameOnGoogle”

  1. I get that they are (likely) hoping that implementing LSA’s with a vetting process will eliminate this type of thing, but until they have all the niches and all of the cities looked after, they really should be taking this type of spam more seriously. People are beginning to lose faith in the Local listings because of crap like this… and as you point out, it’s VERY widespread and volunteers can’t be expected to do ALL the work. Once identified, Google should be taking up the investigative process and eliminating the soammy listings. If Google is seeing this post (and connects), please help the good guys: things are really getting out of hand.

    1. Keep in mind that LSA does nothing to stop this type of activity from happening. When LSA launches in a new market and/or category Google doesn’t go in and clean up map spam. The ads make the abuse a little less visible but it’s still there.
      Could argue that people might be less likely to spam maps due to the reduced visibility but the local pack is still prime real estate, even if Local Services ads are present. Plus, if a spammer can’t get into LSA, what will they likely do to make up for it? Increase their abuse in maps because it’s easy to do.

  2. “People are beginning to lose faith in the Local listings” — I would say that people are losing faith in Google itself, not just the Local listings!
    Gmail continually marks legitimate emails from well-known companies like LinkedIn, Quora, etc, (all Google competitors, co-incidentally?) as spam, no matter how often I mark them as ‘Not Spam’, and drag them back into the inbox. Yet obvious spam still gets through by the bucketload. Losing the plot, Google?

  3. Spammers are using Local Guides to add listings with fake addresses or even the address of other business’s that are all ringing to the same company. Most unverified. Spammers are definitely taking advantage of this loophole.

    1. @Tipper, but isn’t that Google’s job, to weed out the spammers? They are always boasting about how sophisticated their algorithms are, yet they seem to be dropping the ball more and more in every app they have.

  4. It’d be as simple as them auto-flagging any listing with “cheap” or similar marketing lingo in the title. Are they willing to admit to their mistakes and actually take action? Not only is it wrong.. It’s a horrendous search experience. Google, you there?

  5. Mike, I loved reading this post and your tone. Brilliant. It really needs people with your authority to keep bashing at the door of Google. Hopefully they take notice sooner rather than later. Keep it going!

  6. Mike, have you looked into MLM (multi-level marketing) spam? People who ‘work’ for these pyramid schemes set up GMB listings all over residential areas. The people over at /r/AntiMLM go on crusades reporting and removing all they can but Google does nothing.

      1. Definitely! If you’re not in the loop, MLMs are those work from your home/phone schemes you see popping up on Facebook and Insta, where people buy a bunch of weight loss supplements or leggings or whatever from a company they sign up with. The majority don’t actually have physical storefronts and rely on sales over social media or at parties in people’s homes. However, they still set up GMB listings to get visibility! Since they’re not actually a business location, it’s not exactly in line with what Google accepts.

        If you search for any MLM brand on Maps, you’ll see loads of them popping up – Thrive, ItWorks!, Lularoe, Origami Owl, Avon, Mary Kay, Norwex, Lipsense, LimeLight, DoTerra, Rodan+Fields. Not actual business locations 99% of the time, and when you take one down, they tend to pop right up again. Decent success rate in taking them down initially, at least. There’s also this scary instance where someone threatened violence against a local guide for reporting their listings! https://www.reddit.com/r/antiMLM/comments/8zyqm1/mlm_hun_gets_pissed_i_reported_his_business_as/

  7. AH, I thought you meant that MLM had migrated to location creation.

    An Avon person is totally legit in creating a listing from their house IF they hide their address and show a service area that they service.

    Any business that does face to face with a local clientele and can be accessed by direct phone is eligible for a listing. So, many MLMs would be eligible.

  8. Dear Mike,
    a hello from old Europe and a big thank to your open words about the fake markets. Without google rankings we would not have SEO. Without SEO we would not have marketing agencies for SEO. And without them no-one would by advertising at google 😉

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