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February 19, 2008

Local Search Gets Spammy In Australia

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Just a quick post to point out how royally stupid people can be. After we commented on his interview with Rand yesterday, Mike Blumenthal shows us how Google Mapspam takes on international flavor.

Check out what happens when you search for [mechanic Melbourne Australia]:


For serious?

According to ConversionRate, this Melbourne-based mobile mechanic decided it would be wise to spam his business into 500 locations in Google Maps, even though they really only have one location. Still, they decided that it was their right to show up for every main street located in Melbourne. Sweet!

Or, you know, not. Why in God’s name would you do that? First of all, it’s just going to get your site booted out of Google’s local index, if not Google’s entire index. And as we mentioned yesterday, local search should be a priority for your company. You want your business to be there and appear for queries such like [keyword + city name]. Doing this allows targeted customers to find you, to make contact with you, and then to ultimately convert and spend money with you. Spamming your way out of that listing, or Google’s entire index, is not wise. We think this should be fairly obvious.

And it’s not just about the search engines. What impression do you think users are getting when they see that you have inserted yourself into all ten slots? Sure, you’ve banished your competitors off of the Map, but you’ve also set yourself up as a royal jackass. Someone was trying to find an answer to their question and you went ahead and tainted their search results. Do you know how angry people get when you purposely keep them from information and make their lives unnecessarily hard? Forget establishing any kind of trust. It’s gone.

As is the case in all things search engine optimization, spamming the search engines really isn’t worth the risk. The engines will catch on to what you’re doing and you’ll be promptly removed from the index. Can your business afford to be banished?

I suppose it makes me particularly sad to see this kind of map spam because we’re still so early in the game with this one! I don’t want to see blended search features tarnished and then discarded. Google’s still experimenting with how frequently to bring up blended results; if businesses start misusing them, they’re gone. And that doesn’t help anyone. If we start to see business spamming out the Map section, users are going to train themselves to just gloss over them. Right now Google’s reporting pretty decent clicks from these listings, both because they’re new (and therefore eye-catching) and because they’re highly relevant to a users a query. Once you change that, users will start to ignore them like search ads. The number of clickthroughs will plummet and Google will either limit the number of Map results displayed or kill the whole thing in general.

Dude, don’t jeopardize my ability to find good pizza at a moments notice. I’m not even kidding. I’ll hurt you.

Make local search a priority, but do it the right way. Don’t waste good branding and search engine optimization tactics because you’re (a) lazy or (b) a moron. Spamming never pays, both in terms of your fate with the search engines and your customers.

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3 responses to “Local Search Gets Spammy In Australia”

  1. Brett Gilbertson writes:

    Hi Lisa, You said it the way I was thinking it! LOL.

    Happy to say that with the help of the blogging community the spammer has now been removed.

  2. Bob Weber writes:

    You must be drinking your AMP this week – lots of posts.

    I absolutely agree with what you said, obviously this About Town Mobile Mechanics is a liar and cheater who should be punished for his spamming, but I think you let Google off too easy. Google Maps is a great service, but so often the entries are out of date or just flat out wrong. There are businesses that are closed, businesses that have moved, businesses with wrong addresses and no way to correct it.

    Google should have a method to AT LEAST report bad addresses. It would also be nice if Google had a better method of adding items to the map. I’m not sure what all the answers are, but would love to hear your thoughts on how they could improve the process of both adding new businesses, I think the postcard thing is a joke, and removing bogus entries. Until they make some improvements on both these issues Google maps won’t be a great source of local information.

  3. DavidW writes:

    The thing is that it’s a year on now and Google has done little to nothing to prevent businesses from doing this kind of thing. I posted several examples of this here http://www.dewpointproductions.com/seo_blog/local-search/locksmiths-crack-google-local with screen shots.



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