Rob Reynolds works for Pop-A-Lock, a large multi location locksmith chain. He coordinates their SEO and SEM activities particularly the Google maps/local business listing efforts and is also a central figure in Pop-A-Locks efforts at combating the scammer/spammer issue. Here is a recent comment that he offered up in reply to my recent posts on Locksmith abuses in Maps:
This is a highly emotional issue for locksmith all over but one thing is correct: this has nothing to do with the fact that most of the players are Israeli. The fact that illegal aliens are being recruited to work here in a multi state fraud is very relevant because it will eventually allow Rico statutes to apply once this gets to a federal case level. What particular nationality is irrelevant and only distracts/detracts from the valid arguments.
The fix for Google is actually quite simple as is the fix for the Yellow Page publishing industry. In a joint meeting with our CEO, our Attorney, a former FBI official, the Attorney for Aloa and several key figures in the locksmithing industry involved in the investigation of scammers, we came up with a simple set of ‘best practices’ that if followed would kill this phenomenon within a year.
1. Do not allow any new entries into the Google local directory, any IYP or in the Yellow Page categories of Locksmith or Keymaker without a valid DBA certificate issued by the state that the ad (listing) will present in.
2. Do not allow the address to be submitted unless proof of address is presented for the address requested.
3. If the state requested or city requested is one of the current 9 states that require a locksmith license or New York City, Long Island or Washington DC, then require that license number be submitted and presented in the ad.
In the case of Google there is a very simple step that they could do that they are already set up to handle: Require Post Card validation of any listing in the categories related to locksmithing. However, do not require that the address be posted in the ad itself.
In other words: suspend every listing with no address listed, if an address is listed send the post card and reactivate upon receipt of the pin number. Allow a new listing but force an address to be inputted (but allow it to be hidden except for the city and state see below why) but force the post card pin validation for any new listing.
Why allow people to hide the address: Most locksmiths are mobile only service (as evidenced by the www.aloa.org, www.thenationalocksmith.com polls and the www.clearstar.com polls of their members) and listing the home address causes safety concerns as well as misleading the public to thinking they can just drive over and have service performed.
Why force the City and state. This will limit the out of state companies from concealing their whereabouts. They can still post their numbers and ads in Google, however if they have no true local precense the ‘New York, New York’ city and state will be associated with the ad an minimize the black hat efforts.
I am available to discuss these issues either through our corporate office, through our attorney or if Google feels more comfortable they can directly contact the representative of TMP who can then in turn discuss the issue with us. Since I do represent a private company with a large stake in this issue, Google is welcome to contact the rep from Aloa who is representing not only their membership but the locksmith industry at large.
Tim McMullen JD is available at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am available at email@example.com
Thanks and thanks to the efforts of Map Guide Jen and Map Guide Adam for helping with this problem but the outstanding issues that we have with other companies having our Authorotative One Box result for local “Pop a lock + city name” still exist. Please see mapspam complaint on the water cooler site related to “Pop a lock oakland” searches.