This came in today from a reader:
I ran across this new twist with InfoUSA & Google Maps and thought I’d pass it in. Do you recall when Google Local/Maps added a photo provided by InfoUSA to many local business profiles? It’s the default image for most companies.
A couple days ago, I clicked on one of the photos (trying to check out a phony address) and got a redirect to what I thought was a hijacked, spammy page offering a credit report. This morning I finally realized every InfoUSA photo redirects to one of those pages on Credit.net with ‘an InfoUSA company’ in very light gray text at the top left. The linked photo is in thumbnail size but surrounded by an offer for a credit report on the business. Each is a lead generator since no data about the company is actually provided. Each ‘click to view’ link launches a pop-up box to register. User registration required with an offer of ‘the first 25 reports for ‘free.” Here are the TOS -
They’ve basically got ad links for InfoUSA credit reports on every business listing. Even with a business’s own uploaded pictures, the one from InfoUSA still shows under “Photos”. To experience this for yourself click on the last photo of the business (see screen shot below) in this Google Maps search example for Chelsea Fower Market in NYC..
I wonder if this is quid pro quo between G and Info (and planned all along) or a unilateral switch to better monetize the InfoUSA data. Would love to find screen shots from the old daplus.com since I seem to remember small links offering credit reports.
It is not clear why or how those photo links are there but the links sure appear inappropriate, don’t they? Now that is a link campaign!
Read on to see a screen shot.. Continue reading
For all of you that are hot on the trail of Mapspammers this post might help to speed things up :
Hack Google (Maps) URLs for Quick Searching
Basically, the multi-step process of going to Google [Maps], typing in an address, clicking submit, etc., can be avoided by just putting all your info directly into the URL. For example typing this works:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=1683 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA
So for example to find Cathy’s florist that she reported last week to Google Maps for Business Group you would simply type in the URL:
http://maps.google.com/maps?q=flowers with gifted elegance
To receive your secret decoder ring send along your recently found Mapspam.
(this would also work for those of you who just use Maps a lot and are not interested in joining the Columbo Mystery Squad)
Techcrunch has a good summary of the unique visitors to each of Google’s services comparing this November to last. It appears that Maps, by Comscore’s measurement, has 17% as many unique users as Google Web Search has. This % is significantly higher than last year.
Greg Sterling has a good analysis of the numbers. However given that Google Maps data is pushed out over a number of different technologies, the Comscore count may be underestimating the number of unique users of the data set and the overall usage of Maps. Those technologies include Google SMS, Goog-411 and Google Maps for Mobile. The extent to which users of Google Maps is undercounted is unclear but it strikes me that the undercount is greater on Maps than any other Google property as it uses more distribution technolgoies than other Google products. Regardless the number of unique users of Maps is starting to take off.
From the goog411 Google Group
== 1 of 1 ==
Date: Sat, Dec 22 2007 4:43 pm
Goog411 has been sending me the same text message every 15 minutes for
2 hours now at 10 cents a message. This is the first time I have experienced this problem when receiving text messages from goog 411.
Who do I contact to stop the messages??
Thanks for your help in advance,
If it takes this poor fellow as long to resolve his problem as it is taking (9 months and counting) for this school to solve theirs (where you will also find some earlpearl’s of wisdom), his cell phone bill will roughly equal the national debt of Kazikstan by the end of the upcoming holiday week.
Google has yet to remove this Mapspam. I have included additional spam details at the end of this post. Does anyone know the economics of having this many phone numbers?
When searching on Philadelphia PA 19125 Locksmith but I found this response of intense interest:
The reviewer Jack, has been busy tracking these folks down.
The recent posting at SEORefugee about the Denver Florist going broke due to their business being displaced by appearance of a competitor in the OneBox, has brought Googleâ€™s Authoritative OneBox into the consciousness of the search community.
The Authoritative OneBox has been the gold standard to measure success in local search marketing. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a singular local listing that shows up at the top of the main Google search results page when Google determines that a certain local listing is the authority for that local search.
It made its first appearance last October. Bill Slawski wrote up a OneBox Patent Summary in January of this year. In that same timeframe (January & February) it became more frequently displayed and there was an increase in use of the Authoritative OneBox. Previously it was shown when there was no competition locally but it started being shown more frequently and for the â€œdominantâ€ local listing.
In some ways, the Authoritative OneBox is like the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button on the Google main search window. It reflects the confidence that Google has in their technology. It reflects that idea that they can determine the single best answer to a query. It is said that Google forgoes $110 million in advertising revenue by keeping the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. At some level the button reflects a certain DNA of Google and their desire to be playful yet confident in their results. It also reflects a certain arrogance: the idea that their algo is so good that it can determine the answer a searcher wants to the exclusion of all others.
The Authoritative OneBox also demonstrates the fundamental difference (and difficulties) between returning relevant results of an abstraction like webpages and returning the real results of a concrete thing like a business. When would a user ever want just one response to the query Denver Flowers?
However it raises more questions than just that.
Â The Power and Impact of Google Maps
A great post & discussion on the power (perceived and/or real) power of Local and the frustration that it can create in the small business community
A Case Study of Trusted Reviewersâ€™ Impact on Google Maps Placement
A research project in local that could help understand the role of reviews.
Update: 12/23/07 The Tire Rack mapspam has been removed. Since none of the other spam mentioned has yet to be removed, I presume that the company rather than Google did the removing.
There have been three new reports of Mapspam at the Google Maps For Business Group in the last few days.
Our reporter in the trenches of the florist industry, Cathy, noted a variation on an old theme where a national flower reseller with local phone exchanges makes a common appearance in the Maps for the top 60 or so markets but without any local address (note the map indicator is round and not pointed.)
I also noted a new type of Mapspam where a national company, The Tire Rack , created a listing for each and every independent tire store that may or may not carry their product and gave each a local business name of “TireRack Independent Recommended Installer” a local business address and the corporate #877 number.
Thus each local Tire Rack installer is listed in Google Maps twice, once with their own phone and once with The Tire Rack’s #800 (877-596-5090). The number when called took me to the corporate switchboard. They seemed to have achieved a new upload record with 3,576 listings. I tired at listing 500.
This practice does not bode well for Maps or independent tire installers. Obviously the day is near in Maps when every Addidas shoe seller or Nikon camera store will be listed with the corporate phone number. And what local retailer wants to forgo their local brand identity to have the supplier of one of their product lines pick up the phone and do who know what with the call.
Google Maps has always buried the link that allows a business to edit their listing. This may be a form of self preservation to keep the complaints down. However, they have recently made the link more (?) accessible…it is still a number of levels deep but it is now visible higher on the screen after only 2 clicks.
I had an interesting conversation with a programmer whom I respect this morning who was looking at Yahoo Local and Google Maps business listings (in an industry that presumably has nearly 100% website penetration). He pointed out the following:
â€¢ Google and Yahoo seem to have almost the same name/address/phone info
â€¢ But Google has much better abstracts and web pages (i.e. web site url).
â€¢ Google has about 80-90% of its business listings associated with web pages,
â€¢ Whereas Yahoo has 52% of its business listings associated with web pages
I have found Yahoo Local’s ranking algo to be simpler than Google’s but it appears that there is more difference in the backend than just that.