Google Maps Spam Being Reduced

The locksmith industry has traditionally been one of the most spammy spaces on Google Maps. Google has been trying to crack down on this space for some time, but in September 2009, I performed an analysis that showed that the listings were still of extremely poor quality.

I performed the same analysis today, and the results have improved greatly:

Factor Examined09/04/0912/22/09
Is the listing for a local company35.85%64.29%
Does the display name match the website name?60.47%82.05%
Does the display URL match the website URL?90.70%89.66%
Is the listing name keyword spam?47.17%23.81%
Is the listing spam?64.71%35.71%


This is a significant improvement. The percentage of spammy listings has been cut almost in half, while the percentage of local companies listed has increased by a factor of 1.79.

In addition, I did not find a single duplicate listing, whereas three months ago six of the listings were duplicates within the same geography.

Even not including the spamming, this is a tough, in-fighting industry. There were many instances of negative reviews seemingly written by competitors and positive reviews likely written by the company itself.

And three of the listings included reviews from competitors stating that such-and-such company was not licensed (in those cases, I couldn’t find any evidence that the companies in question was licensed, so it might be wise to stay away).

Even if you think this is Google’s responsibility to police, it’s going to be difficult to clean up. It certainly makes accurately evaluating locksmiths rather difficult, however.

By city, here are the number of spam listings:

  • Austin: 1 spam, 6 non-spam
  • Dallas: 2 spam, 5 non-spam
  • El Paso: 0 spam, 6 non-spam, 1 off-target
  • Fort Worth: 5 spam, 2 non-spam
  • Houston: 1 spam, 5 non-spam, 1 borderline
  • San Antonio: 6 spam, 1 non-spam

San Antonio takes the title from Fort Worth as the spammiest city in Texas (for “locksmith” keywords, at least).

There’s still room for improvement, but I need to give Google credit. They’ve made significant improvement. The number of misleading business listings within Google Maps seems to be declining.