Google Maps Hijacking & More Local News

Filed in Local Search by Matt McGee on September 18, 2008 2 Comments

Lots going on these days in the local search world. I was about to start writing a bunch of quick posts about everything, then decided to just condense it all a bit into one roundup post. And that’s what you’re looking at right now. Without further ado, here’s what’s happening:

The Perils of Not Claiming Your Business in Google Maps

Anaheim florist Cathy Hillen-Rulloda shared news a few days ago about a developing problem on Google Maps: Some unscrupulous people are hijacking business listings that have not been claimed by the actual business owner, and changing the business information so it promotes these individuals’ affiliate accounts. While the situation Cathy writes about is happening in the floral industry, it could happen to any local business that hasn’t claimed its listing in the Google Local Business Center. Here’s how Cathy described the problem:

On Friday morning an alert San Diego FlowerChat member noticed that two of the Google Local Ten Pack listings for his city had abruptly changed. Instead of displaying the names and details of the real shops, Che Bella and Rosita’s Flower Shop, the listings sported ‘Convenient Flowers’ and ‘Amazing Flowers’ and the links pointed to URLs which then redirected (via affiliate links) to national floral affiliate reseller companies.

I’ll skip this opportunity to rant about Google’s decision to allow anyone to edit an unclaimed listing, and just use it as a reminder of the perils of not claiming your listing. It’s a must for any small business. In addition to reading Cathy’s original post, Mike Blumenthal also checked in today with some thoughts on the situation.

Superpages and Google Maps Rankings

Ed Reese, whom I first “met” when I moderated the local search panel earlier this year at SMX West, has written an interesting case study on David Mihm’s blog. Ed has been watching his site rise and fall all year in Google Maps, and that’s prompted him to put together a good analysis of the impact of having a featured vs. regular listing on Superpages.com. It’s a good read.

DexKnows Offers Widgets

While we’re talking about online yellow pages, DexKnows announced today the availability of various widgets that will add a DexKnows search box and similar tools to any web site.

outside.in Also Offers Widgets

And lastly, local content aggregator outside.in also introduced a widget today called StoryMaps. I have a little more about that over on Hyperlocal Blogger.

Now you’re all caught up!

Comments (2)

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  1. Hi Matt

    Thanks for the nod.

    Listing Hijacking not only could be happening in other industries it has been happening in other industries. I first reported on this in May of this year.

    It was predictable when the feature was introduced and abused have been reported for months ago, yet Google remained in a reactive mode as far as edits of business records went. Not only have they not put in place the human oversight necessary they have not put in place the technical oversight either to guarantee listing accuracy.

    Any security system that relies on the intelligence and knowledge of 12-16 million small businesses to be secure (ie logging into the LBC) is not very secure, is it? Shame on Google.

    Mike
    PS I will do the rant for you :)

  2. Cathy says:

    Matt -

    Thanks for covering this hijacking issue. It truly can happen anywhere and if you follow the activity of the Google user IDs involved in the florist hijackings, you’ll see the same group also snatched listings of furniture stores, banks, salons, restaurants and martial arts studios.

    The little bit of light is that I noticed an ‘angel’ or two out and about correcting the hijacks. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough angels to counterbalance the spammers.

    Mike’s absolutely right. This hand-crafted spam can only be stopped by real human intervention. Most SMBs are busy running their companies and don’t even know where to start when it comes to spotting, let alone fixing mapspam.

    Cathy

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