Major ‘Mapspam’ on Google

I was given a tip that the search New York hotels on Google yielded major “mapspam.” Check this out (yikes):

Mapspam on Google

Apparently all these links have been hijacked by affiliate site Uppereast.com.

San Francisco Hotels, Chicago Hotels and Seattle Hotels, by comparison, all look to be pretty clean and spam free.

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16 Responses to “Major ‘Mapspam’ on Google”

  1. Sinbad Says:

    So much for the wisdom of the crowds…trust you put a no-follow on that uppereast link. jokers don’t deserve any goog juice.

  2. Steve Espinosa Says:

    Hmmmm…. what seams interesting is that in all those local listings it does not state that any information was provided by the business owner which it typically would state if someone hijacked the listing through the LBC. But it doesnt list “uppereast.com” as a web reference at all in the any listings either, where it lists the information google found on various webpages to compile this listing. The only logical way I see this URL being placed their is by one of the major data providers or a trusted source having placed this as the url and Google simply took their word for it.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    It’s ugly. Google had gotten rid of most of this from traditional search results long ago.

  4. Understanding Google Maps & Yahoo Local Search » Major Affiliate Mapspam reported on Google for New York Hotels | Developing Knowledge about Local Search Says:

    [...] Sterling of Screenwerks has reported an affiliate mapspam incident on Google for the search New York [...]

  5. sinbad Says:

    trusted source? All you need is your own google local business account. which means ACME Anything can hijack anyones listings for a period of time. in this example uppereast just edited the listing using the “Edit this Listing” found at the bottom of all google local listings. Goog will go through the snail mail process of validating the changes but in the meantime, they just make the edit live in google local. Feel free to try this with other major brands in NYC and you too can own a major brand for a month or so.

  6. MiriamEllis Says:

    Wow, great catch, Greg.
    Any chance this is going to be a Yahoo-type situation as was suggested with the Marriott hotel incident? I am still turning over in my mind what the Yahoo rep said about the possibility of intentional affiliate stuff….but this just looks too widespread, doesn’t it?

    What a mess!
    Miriam

  7. Greg Sterling Says:

    Wasn’t a catch. Somebody tipped me. I would imagine that Google will shut this down quickly.

  8. Steve Espinosa Says:

    Sinbad,
    If that was the case the listing would show “Provided by business owner” which was not. So this was not done through the LBC.

  9. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    This is very similar to the report in the restaurant market of Google including yelp’s url in the absence of an LBC record.

    I am with Steve on this, that it is likely a change in Google’s policy toward mapping URL’s on records that have not yet been claimed. They have always done this but not with so much focus on “trusted” (not necessarily trustworhy) sites like Yelp or uppereast.com

    Greg, you should contact Google and ask them if this is a change in how they are handling these records.

    Mike

  10. Sinbad Says:

    So this has been fixed by Google. These listings now all show “maps.google.com” Do we have any insight into what happened? SPAM? Algorithmic hiccup?

  11. Greg Sterling Says:

    I made Google aware of this and asked for a comment, which I haven’t received.

  12. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    I would infer from the fact that it has reverted to maps.google.com that it was in fact spam. Normally, if you look at any given set of 10 listings only 2 have been edited by the business owner but almost all of them have a website assigned.

    Mike

  13. Greg Sterling Says:

    I got an email from the CEO of Uppereast.com protesting my characterization of this episode as “spam.” He suggested this was all Google’s doing and that they were being viewed as a trusted data source I invited him to write a post about it.

  14. Uppereast Responds to ‘Mapspam’ Post « Screenwerk Says:

    [...] I was contacted in email by the CEO of Uppereast.com who took exception to my post and characterization of his site’s appearance on Google as “spam.” I offered him [...]

  15. Mike Blumenthal Says:

    Fascinating! If it was Google, then why the shift in linking strategy…and then if they had changed why did they remove them all of the sudden.

    In the end I believe uppereast but it it leaves many questions.

    Mike

  16. Update: Google Local shenanigans with restaurant listings « Online Marketing for Restaurants Says:

    [...] listings – in this case with no real check mechanism to stop abuse. There’s other evidence (here, here, here) that this kind of activity is more widespread than these few restaurant examples I [...]

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