May 18, 2008
Last week I interviewed a lawyer from LA that had been banned from Maps for multiple listings with invented addresses. I followed up with some examples of the Mapspam that were dominating the Local OneBoxes in the legal and plastic surgery industries in Southern California.
Matt Cutts & Maps Guide Jen responded that this type of Mapspam should and would be penalized. The good news was that over the last week, Google took down most of the reported examples (although the brain injured lawyer Los Angeles mapspam still returns an authoritative Local OneBox…maybe Google finds it as funny as I do).
However, Google’s hand editing of the index is not really a cure for these types of abuses. I realized that Los Angeles was a multilingual town. Our Hispanic brethren might have just been experiencing the same kinds of Lawyer Mapspam if Google had not been thorough in their cleansing efforts.Â
My search for Abogados de Inmigracion Los Angeles turned up this Authoritative OneBox:
Just today in the Google Maps for Business Group there was a posting from Helen in Spain that indicated Google was preventing multiple listings at one address even for legitimate multi-lingual reasons. Was the OneBox above a legitimate listing or was it just the tip of the proverbial Mapspam iceberg?
May 16, 2008
Maps Guide Jen, in a comment posted in response to the articleÂ The Longtail of Local Search Mapspam, has indicated that multiple listings at a single address are not acceptable:
…I think itâ€™s fair to say that we donâ€™t want to see search results where multiple listings show up for the same business location. Those types of search results arenâ€™t useful in any way for our users, whom we care most about.
It’s safe to say that if you are going to “rebrand your business” for Local, pick your name very carefully as you will have only per location.Â
Sometimes a “rebranding” doesn’t quite convey the message that you intended. It is unclear whether this lawyer creates these accidents or tries them in court or is perhaps a stunt driver. I suppose it could be all three.Â
May 15, 2008
Google Maps has rolled out a number of upgrades to Maps this past week. This just came in from Maps Guide Brian at the Google Maps Current Issues Group:
Looking for your saved locations?Â Sign in to your Google Account andÂ click on the drop-down arrow directly to the right of the Search box!
Some of the many other recent Maps upgrades:
News flash: Maps now open to Flash developers
Google Maps Adds “More” Button For Displaying Videos, Pictures, Wikipedia & More Content
Google Adds RE Search Option toÂ Maps
Google Cleans UpÂ Manhattan
May 14, 2008
Ok I promise that this will be the last twisted Google Local OneBox result for a while.
Searching on Brain Injured Beverly Hills CAÂ I get the following OneBox:
One just has to wonder about a lawyer with the domain name: CaliforniaAmputationlawyers.com that gets returned on a search for Brain Injured, no?
I just knew that there was a lawyer joke in here somewhere. The search for Brain Injured Lawyer Los Angeles even returns an authoritative OneBox:
May 13, 2008
After mucking around in the bowels of local search marketing for laywers in LA, I had an interesting interchange with Miriam Ellis of SEOigloo.Â
Me: But what client in their right mind would choose a lawyer based on the search â€œLA Dog Bite Attorneyâ€? It seems to cater to the underclasses.
Miriam: Somehow, it reminds me of those eBay adwords plugs â€œBuy New & Used Dog At EBayâ€. The artifice of crummy and weird SEO at work.
Her comment struck a chord for me and led me through a whole mind experiment (over the next 3 minutes) wondering just how far â€œweird SEOâ€ might goâ€¦
And where else to look? Los Angeles of course.
My (somewhat twisted) cogs started turning out possible search phrases. Cut Rate Surgery? No too cliche. Breast Enlargement? Hmm I was getting warm Â there. My search soon proved fruitful. On just my third try I hit pay dirt as it were: Beverly Hills Breast Augmentation:
So I asked myself the obvious question: What business in their right mind would rebrand themselves Breast Augmentation? Well never underestimate the possibilities when you combine the thought process of someone from LA with the power of Google.
Apparently a lot of businesses would:
May 12, 2008
I have noted Apple’s steady movement into mobile computing via the MacBook Air, the iPod Touch and the iPhone in the past. Is there room for a kindle sized device between the phone and the ultra portable? Here are two views:
Between a Laptop and the iPhoneÂ - Greg Sterling, Local Mobile Search
Do You Have That Portable in a Midsize?Â -Â John Markoff, NY Times
And on a totally unrelated vein:
Fuel Optimization, Geospatial and On-Board NavigationÂ - Mike Dobson, Telemapics
Mike is always a few years out in his vision and very broad in his analysis. Here he talks aboutÂ navigation software/systems to help solve fuel economy problems.
Update 05/13/08 Google has removed some but apparently not all of the examples below.
In the conversation about Lawyers’ mapspam EarlPearl and Stephan Espinosa both wondered what type of spam panzermike and other lawyers were placing into Maps. I decided to delve into the moshpit that is the proxy for on-line legal marketing in LA and see what was up. It certainly has all the making for a new lawyer joke. Â
I started my search looking at the links that panzemike had posted:
dog bite lawyersÂ nearÂ Los Angeles, CA
car accident lawyersÂ nearÂ Los Angeles, CA
wrongful death lawyersÂ nearÂ Los Angeles, CA
It was not at first clear from the above links whether there was abuse or just some creative title optimization and lots of remote offices:
This firm, apparently has 24 offices throughout the greater LA area, San Jose and San Diego. It was conceivable to me that they had optimized each title like the above for each office. I decided to focus my research in the city of Pasadena to check for multiple listings per location but got a little nervous when Google indicated that it had 54,208 lawyer listings in Pasadena. Here is what I found just in Pasadena:
May 10, 2008
On May 7, 5:52 pm, “Maps Guide Jen” notified a poster, panzermike, at the Google Maps for Business Group that his business listings had been banned from Maps for the “foreseeable future”:Â
I had a look into your account. Your listings aren’t appearing because removed them from Google Maps. At this time even though you’ve reversed spam attempts, you’ve been blocked for the foreseeable future. I won’t be able to answer any additional questions about your listings.
- Maps Guide Jen
Yesterday, the poster Michael P. Ehline, P.C (aka panzermike) posted a comment at this blog:
I was removed from Google maps for mapspam after a guy I hired did all sorts of bulk uploads for the same address who I paid goo money. One of the listings was to a park!! (I found out later).
In all events, Google allows other businesses to claim your listing. Pretty sneaky. I think I discovered a guy who did that to me and went to the Maps group for help. Instead, a forum troll reported me as a spammer and I was removed from Maps.
I fired the webmaster who set up maps for me. Too late, Maps Jen says I am out for the “foreseeable future”. I have suffered at least a 30 percent drop in business.
What’s worse, is that the other sites my guy copied are all still submitting multiple listings for the same location, using multiple mirror sites with different url’s, submitting fakes firm names, that are really keyword names, and are totally controlling all the traffic from Maps.
Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps and to get Maps to enforce its rules in a just manner, rather than the arbitrary and capricious manner they enforce their rules now? It really killed my phone.
Don’t you think they should offer amnesty or a second chance?
I was intrigued by the situation and emailed PanzerMike to see if he wanted to bring his case to a larger audience. So I am providing an interview with him andÂ puttingÂ his question to the readers of this blog:Â Do you have any suggestions as to getting back into Maps?Â Do you think Google should offer amnesty or a second chance?
Here are his responses to my interview questions:
May 8, 2008
Â Small Business Marketing Success Story: Avante GardensÂ - Matt McGee, SearchEngineland
This interview with Cathy Rulloda is a great overview of good practices. Cathy is always at the forefront of using the internet for local marketing in the very tough florist arena and she more than holds her own.
Free-411 Rolls Out Dial DirectionsÂ NationallyÂ &Â Jingle Goes Nationwide with Dial DirectionsÂ - Greg Sterling, Screenwerks/Local Mobile
Against that backdrop Jingle needs to continue to develop, market and differentiate its service if it hopes to stay ahead of this increasing competition. One way it has sought to do that is byÂ offering Dial Directions service, which as of today is now available nationally: any location to any other location (by address or intersection).
I see Free 411 services as a critical bridge service between the phones of today and the mobile internet of tomorrow and the services use much the same data set that we have been working with. Greg offers this interesting chart of Free 411 intents:
How do we determine the names of things -Â Â Mikel Maron, BrainOff.com
A mid April post that takes a fascinating look at the politics and policies involved in naming places. What we often assume is an absolute in a Map is really Â a fluid, conflicted political & social battle. How does Google handle the conflicts that arise? How does OpenStreetMap do so? An eye opening and educational piece.