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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Maps now with PhotoSpammy Links?

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 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 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..