Google Maps: What can be learned from the Mapspammers?

Last week Matt Cutts implied that I was endorsing Mapspam tactics when he noted:

Mike: I find it odd to beat up Google for not taking enough action on mapspam, then beat up Google on the other side when we start taking stronger action on mapspam…..

During a few parts of the interview I felt like you were giving this fellow “air time” after he’d said that there were multiple listings with bad data.

Actually far from it.

The folks who practice the more questionable tactics in Maps are essentially pushing the system to find its limits; what can be listed, what affects rank, what works. They are doing so in a vacuum of guidance from Google and apparently their motivation is profit. Short term profit at that, as I don’t see it as a sustainable tactic. I don’t find these practices acceptable on any level but I do learn from them.

I study and report Mapspam because it provides insight
• into how Maps works,
• into factors influencing ranking,
• the obvious contradictions in Google’s policies and practices and
• occasionally it provides insight into legitimate techniques that might increases viewer response.

Here is an interesting case of obvious maps abuse (where else but LA) but one that raises the question, does the tactic increase end user response and is it acceptable practice?

Continue reading

Local Links of Interest

IPhone’s Hold on Users Not Exclusive - ALEX MINDLIN, NY Times

Nearly half of iPhone users changed carriers in order to use the device, according to a survey by Rubicon Consulting…. The survey also found that 36 percent of iPhone users regularly carried another mobile phone as well, most often a BlackBerry

Yahoo: Mobile Will Dominate PCs by 2016 - Greg Sterling, LocalMobileSearch.net 

Geraldine Wilson, Yahoo! Europe predicted that by 2016, mobile Internet access will surpass that of PC-based access: “We believe that by 2016, more users will access the internet from their mobile devices than the fixed PC. Currently there are approximately a billion PCs and three billion mobiles.”

[Greg Sterling] informally predicted to a client yesterday this would likely happen in terms of search query volume perhaps as early as 2013. But what will the sessions be like and how effectively will they be monetized? And how effective an ad medium will mobile become for marketers?

Pew: Web Not Key To Final Buying Decisions - Mark Walsh, Mediapost.com

While the Internet has become a key information source for researching products, it doesn’t have a major impact on consumers’ final purchases, according to a new study. Findings from the Pew Internet & American Life Project survey tracking buying habits related to music, cell phones and homes suggest the Web is just one of various resources people use before making purchases. And only a minority of consumers actually end up buying online directly

Google Maps: Multilingual Mapspam in LA

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. 

My search for Abogados de Inmigracion Los Angeles turned up this Authoritative OneBox:

Tip: Search for English results only. You can specify your search language in Preferences

Jacobson & Han LLP – Immigration Attorneys (Abogados de Inmigracion)

www.greencard4you.com     

553 S Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Get directions

More information »
Open Weekdays 8am-12pm, 1pm-6pm; Sat 10am-4pm

 

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?

Continue reading

Google Maps Policy: Multiple Listings at a Single Address a No Go

Maps Guide Jen, in a comment posted in response to the article The Longtail of Local Search Mapspam, has indicated that multiple listings at a single address are not acceptable:

…I think it’s fair to say that we don’t want to see search results where multiple listings show up for the same business location. Those types of search results aren’t useful in any way for our users, whom we care most about.

Thanks!
Jen

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. 

Maps Rebranding gone Amuck

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. 

 Web    Maps    Results 1 - 10 of about 495,000 for Motorcycle Accident Specialist San Francisco CA. (0.25 seconds) 

Motorcycle Accident Specialist

maps.google.com

18 Crow Canyon Ct # 325
San Ramon, CA 94583
(925) 866-8787
Get directions

More information »

Google Maps: Saved Location Update

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?  Sign in to your Google Account and 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 to Maps

Google Cleans Up Manhattan

It’s not your mother’s Yellow Pages; Brain Injured in CA

Ok I promise that this will be the last twisted Google Local OneBox result for a while.

Searching on Brain Injured Beverly Hills CA I get the following OneBox:

Local business results for brain injured near Beverly Hills, CA

Brain Injury Lawyer

 - www.salehiassoc.com
12400 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1300, Los Angeles - (800) 428-0304
Directions and more »

California Brain Injury Lawyer

 - www.californiaamputationlawyers.com
16830 Ventura Boulevard, Encino - (800) 571-9333
Directions, hours, and more »

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:

Los Angeles Head Injury Lawyer

www.salehiassoc.com  

12400 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1300
Los Angeles, CA 90025
(800) 428-0304
Get directions
More information »

 


Rebranding your business for fun and profit in Maps

After mucking around in the bowels of local search marketing for laywers in LA, I had an interesting interchange with Miriam Ellis of SEOigloo. 

Me: But what client in their right mind would choose a lawyer based on the search “LA Dog Bite Attorney”? It seems to cater to the underclasses.

Miriam: Somehow, it reminds me of those eBay adwords plugs “Buy New & Used Dog At EBay”. 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 “weird SEO” might go…

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  there. My search soon proved fruitful. On just my third try I hit pay dirt as it were: Beverly Hills Breast Augmentation:
Search Optimization 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:
Continue reading

Local Links of Interest

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 iPhone - Greg Sterling, Local Mobile Search

Do You Have That Portable in a Midsize? - John Markoff, NY Times

And on a totally unrelated vein:

Fuel Optimization, Geospatial and On-Board Navigation - Mike Dobson, Telemapics

Mike is always a few years out in his vision and very broad in his analysis. Here he talks about navigation software/systems to help solve fuel economy problems.

The Longtail of Local Search Mapspam

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.  

I started my search looking at the links that panzemike had posted:

dog bite lawyers near Los Angeles, CA
car accident lawyers near Los Angeles, CA
wrongful death lawyers near 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:


Continue reading

Developing Knowledge about Local Search