More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Joy Hawkins, a fellow Google Top Contributor, just did some excellent detective work and wrote a great post about how some businesses are ranking in Google mobile with ZERO citations and not much else going for them.

They are leveraging pure location spam with tons of fake locations, since on mobile the proximity to searchers location appears to be such a high ranking factor.

How to Rank in Google Places (Mobile)? Get 100 Fake Locations!
Imprezzio Marketing

As a Top Contributor in the Google Places forum, I often see business owners complaining about how their competitors are breaking all Google’s guidelines and outranking them as a result. There were 2 threads recently started by locksmiths in Denver and Overland Park that have really caught my attention. They were complaining about local locksmiths in their area who are creating hundreds of listings each month that show up on Google and push their ranking down.

Locksmith spam is nothing new. It’s been around for years and has even received national media attention. At first, the tactics used by these businesses didn’t strike me as all that big of a deal since creating mass amounts of low-quality, fake listings on Google has never resulted in ranking in my experience in the last few years. I know all too well how difficult it is to rank on Google Places. There are hundreds of ranking factors that influence who gets to show up first in the results. So there would be no way these locksmiths could be benefitting from this practice since their fake listings wouldn’t rank anywhere. Someone searching for a locksmith would never come across them if they had no “ranking juice”, right?

Well it turns out, I was very wrong. These spammers have found a way around these ranking factors – mobile. The searches I was doing for locksmiths on my computer never returned any of these awful listings and it wasn’t until I pulled out my cell phone that I started to see the ugliness unfold.

Click to read the rest - lots more info!

Thanks for the great write-up Joy!

Joy goes on to say "The types of addresses are a mix of everything. Some are hidden, some belong to other landmarks or businesses (like a Dog Park, or Yahoo’s headquarters, or a UPS store)."

How are they getting these listings verified at landmarks and Yahoo headquarters you ask???

I believe it's via a loophole I've reported to Google several times but I guess they have not plugged the hole OR the spammers have found some other new way to avoid mail verification!

What do you guys think?

Have you thought to have clients check mobile in their local market to see if anyone is gaming the system this way?
What do I think? I think this is very disturbing and I'm so glad Joy reported this. I'm actually quite shocked as I expected better from Google. What are they thinking? Aside from giving these locksmiths the ability to create tons of fake addresses, what could be behind Google's logic in essentially tossing away all the ranking factors that assure quality results?

I will say this. As a consumer I don't care if a Locksmith has a website, and if they do, I don't care if it's optimized or if they have a blog or even if they have any citations. All I care is that they can do the job, that they can be trusted, and that they can get to me quick. And maybe Google knows that.

But can one be trusted if he is cheating every other locksmith in town and stealing Place pages from other businesses? And can they be trusted if they don't have evidence of happy customers (as in reviews in citations)? And can they be trusted if they conduct their business incognito with no real phone number, address or website with contact information?

Come on, Google. I hope you're listening cause my trust in you is waning. Maybe Bing is a better place to conduct my search.
I just took a peek here and in my Google Maps app, a listing called "Toy Traders" with a category of "garage doors" came up for a search on Locksmith. But when I went to Safari, the results were perfect - all apparent legitimate, reputable businesses. Was Joy in a browser or a maps app?

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