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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Microsoft’s listing in Google Maps Hijacked (oops by me)

Last week I spoke with Marc from, one of the florists in San Francisco that was hijacked in mid September in Google Maps. Two things struck me in the conversation.

The first was that he estimated that his business was off 30% for the weeks of the hijacking. That is a significant number that demonstrates the power that Google has conferred on local search. Research indicates that users are going to the internet for the their local buying information and Google is leading that charge. Businesses have benefited from Google’s prominent placement of local results on the main results page.

The second comment that struck me, was that he felt he only had himself to blame for not claiming the record. He noted that if he had claimed it, none of this would have happened. Of course, he added, he didn’t even know that he had a record in Google Maps but he was learning fast as to how to control it. That hit an odd note for me.

Every small business thinks that if they could only operate like the IBMs, Microsofts or Apples of the world, they would have their act together on these new marketing angles. If like, IBM et al, Podesta Baldocchi were on top of these details they could have prevented this hijacking.

I wondered if that was in fact the case so I decided to see if some of the major Fortune 500 companies had in fact claimed their records and avoided the possibility of hijackings. Microsoft came to mind first. I grabbed one of their listings in Redmond and was able to change the location, url and their business name. Microsoft even managed to gather a spammy review in its short life as an escort service :). Out of a sense of fair play, I changed it back although Google has not yet done so. I wasn’t sure that that Microsoft or Google would appreciate my sense of humor.

So I randomly checked elsewhere in the technology arena to see who else might be susceptible…..


I only checked Apple Corporate & IBM Corporate in Armonk and they were both vulnerable. So far I was batting 1000 and not one major company that I identified had claimed their record.

Perhaps the consumer industries were more alert to the need to claim their record? Well,Coca Cola’s corporate HQs in Atlanta and GM’s HQ in Detroit were ripe for the picking as well…

The many corporations open to hijacking


All this talk of pickings and hijackings made me think of the banking crisis. Secretary Paulson’s firm, Morgan Stanley is vulnerable as are the corporate headquarters forWachovia and Lehman Bros. It adds some nuance to the meaning of the word hijacking.

The final irony in this investigation? Many of Google’s local listing had been claimed and locked down, but not all had. Here is a Google local listing you are free to modify if you are feeling a wee bit devilish this Halloween:

Google record open to hijacking in Maps

Should any business big or small need to worry about their business listing being hijacked when they didn’t even know that existed or that it could be hijacked? And should he suffer a 30% drop in business as a result? Marc needn’t have placed the blame on himself. “Blaming the victim”, while it has a long history in our society, really doesn’t solve this particular problem.

It appears that most businesses in the US, big and small, are “guilty” of the same sin of not having claimed their record in Google Maps. He is in good company.