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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Mapspam Update

Several weeks ago I reported in detail new techniques that were taking mapspamming to the next level in Google Maps and Yahoo Local.

The basic technique was simple:

• Rent a mailing address with forwarding in every major market near the centroid of the city (UPS is one of many that offer this service)
• Obtain a domain name for each city with a relevant “location + service” domain
• Create a website that returns an optimized “location + service” page for the domain
• Enter the businesses in the Google Local Business Center or Yahoo Local
• Enter the PIN numbers when they are forwarded to you (if using google)

One area that I didn’t explore in the original article was the use of 800#’s in the on-going spammy promotional effort. The power of Google Maps search can play a significant role in discovering more spam. By searching on the spammer’s phone number(s) you can more easily ascertain the depth of the activity. The power of this research technique was brought to my attention by a new post at the Google’s Maps For Business Group detailing another instance of mapspam.

In an effort to avoid detection (and perhaps for other reasons) the Cash Advance Payday Loans folks used each of their #800s for only 3 Google Maps Local Business Center listings. Here are the numbers that I uncovered and the cities for which they operate via a Google Maps search:
(888) 342-0634

(888) 587-7057

(888) 482-1878

(888) 326-2568









The one search that demonstrates this is when searching on the #800 number used on their website as this returns 3 local listings + all of the other listings that reference their website :

(888) 345-8598 (it shows 37 total listings referring back to their website and master #800)

Have the spammers identified a Google threshold that causes increased scrutiny? Or is there some other reason for the plethora of numbers? What are the economics of the enterprise and the 800# deployment?

To be fair to Google, this spammer has listings in Yahoo as well as the Superpages and a number of other IYP’s. Given Google’s near monopoly role in general search and their trend setting role, I believe that their longterm approach to spam will be mirrored throughout the search industry.

The original insight for this reporting was provided by an entry at