Google Cracking Down on Map Spam

For some time now, Google Maps has been rife with spam for locksmith-related keywords. Lead aggregators, whether companies or individuals, submit Local Business Listings for geographies all over the country. They often use fraudulent methods to push their own listings to the top of the Google Map results, and many times create multiple listings for the same aggregator within the same geography.

If fortunate, the people that call these services have a licensed, capable locksmith show up to help them.

If not so fortunate, the “locksmith” that shows up might be neither licensed nor capable. There are countless stories of the quoted cost suddenly going up once the person arrives. There are also reports of rip-offs and thefts.

Certainly, all industries have their share of scam artists. But for locksmith-related keywords, it’s often been difficult to find one legitimate practitioner within the Google 10-pack.

That has now finally started to change.

The blog “Understanding Google Maps & Local Search” reports that Google is beginning to crack down on Google Map spam, especially within the locksmith industry.

This is good news, although indications are that Google still has more work to do. Many spammy listings remain. In some cases, they still entail the bulk of the listings on a particular query.

There are also reports of seemingly innocent parties being caught in the crossfire, simply for having a particular term in their LBL. This is a clumsy approach on Google’s part, and I expect that it will be adjusted over time.

It should serve as a reminder, however, that with most things SEO:

Pigs get fat. Hogs get slaughtered

If you’re in a competitive industry, you’re going to want/need to push the envelope to get the rankings for your company. But you should realize that the harder you push, the more likely you are to get smacked by Google. You don’t want that.

And don’t forget that there’s a difference between optimization and deception. The latter will tend to bring you unwanted attention.

Lastly, you should never rely on only a single marketing channel. Any marketing channel can disappear with little to no warning, especially one as in continuous state of flux like Google Maps. If Google Maps is your only marketing channel, and Google changes their algorithm in the wrong way for you, you may find your business heading in a bad direction very quickly.

And, last I checked, Washington wasn’t writing bail-out checks for local businesses.