Stealing a google record can be a pretty mundane activity without code. There are a lot of ways to do this. One method appears to be submitting multiple sets of changes to a record through either map maker or the correct the record sources available in google local or now called google + local, or on Maps. It might just be, Bobb if you and I separately made edits to Glynn's hardware and underwear shop in London and gave it new NAP (name, address, Phone info, plus a new url) and say we coordinated the info that all the traffic came to my hardware/underwear shop in sunny Palm Springs..or your hardware/flannel underwear shop in Canada,we could steal Glynn's traffic...simply because there were 2 reports each one coordinated with the same info and coming from 2 separate IP's. A reviewer might see two reports and automatically assume they are correct. (2 heads are better than 1, or 2 crooked heads are better than 1)
I've been generating edits in google's MapMaker which is one way to edit information about hard businesses. In fact you can go into MapMaker and see the history of edits on smbs. In this most recent case it appears that google is erasing the edit history on these hotels along with fixing the information. It seems google doesn't want you or I to know what was done--
As to the one's I edit ...they are local honest changes having to do with smb's in my area that might close, have wrong information up, etc. Google is dealing with something like 40 million local smbs around the world. They have edit teams in India but it appears they can be compromised.
I've also been editing records in yelp. Both seem to be similarly responsive on updating smb information. The changes being affected don't have to have been done via code.
The other side of the issue, not significantly addressed in Danny's article is simply that the google maps/google local/ google local + system is not nor has it ever been airtight. On top of that google never seems to give a rats @ss about correcting this information with any urgency, let alone ever correcting the info at all.
I know that the local info for hotel sites has been periodically redirected to booking businesses for years. The issue has come up in complaints into the google places forum for many years.
Its been consistent. Its theft. Google mostly doesn't care, it appears, and I suspect the only reason this one got prompt attention is that it was brought to Danny Sullivan's attention...he wrote about it...it got significant publicity...and so they jumped on it simply because of the potential for major publicity damage. Also its quite large and widespread. This one's a biggie!!!!!!
btw: I've been part of the local seo community for a long time; having been a commentator on David Mihm's "Local Ranking Factor's" annual article as a commentator since it began, and I've worked on some of these issues. There are some industries that have been under the radar screen who have employed spammy methods to dominate local visibility for years and years. Locksmiths are the ones that gained a lot of publicity a few years ago. It occurs across the board.
Some methods are or have been pretty mundane. For instance a business or industry would "spam" the ecosystem of local directories ie all the web yellow page sites; with faked information about location, address, name, url. etc. That info would get scraped by google into their local records data base via algo and the plethora of faked bad information would result in wide spread changes across the board in google local records appearing in the LOCAL PAC on the first page of google dot com.
Just a lot of stuff. Its all about the money. I'm pretty sure the spammers will find and pay off webmasters or webdesigners/ to place hidden invisible links into perfectly acceptable websites....that will only get snagged by competitors who saw their site's local and or organic serps plunge to competitors and then use link tools to see the underhanded links. That is organic...not maps...but it also goes on. Whenever I've seen one of those there is always big money behind it.
I mostly think google is completely lackadaisical about policing this stuff. They only seem to react when they are embarrassed as with the big publicity from Danny Sullivan's article. But after all....the spam methods are all ultimately targeting google where most of the search traffic is. So by not addressing it google more or less accommodates it...and its usually theft.
Edited by earlpearl, 21 January 2014 - 12:21 PM.