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An Habitual Maps Spammer Comes Clean

spamming google maps black hat or white crummy weak algos some local search tricks

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#1 earlpearl

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 05:13 PM

Here is some breaking news.  A notorious Maps spammer just got written up in some journals about his exploits:

 

Essentially...how to create faked google business locations that can spam maps, get you leads...make you money...kind of thing.  Its been rampant in google maps for years.

 

here are two stories

 

http://www.komonews....-246585191.html

 
 
Some background on this from Blumenthals blog on local from last week:  http://blumenthals.c...-the-fun-of-it/
 
After they went public google took down all those spammy records.


#2 margoupson

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 08:16 PM

I love the part (in the first link) where he says that he's exposing all of this because he's hoping for a job at Google. Good luck with that. The guy is bragging that, even though Google took down the fake listings he publicized, he can (and will) just go put up more. 

 

Although, evidently Google only took down the listings; all of the Google+ pages are still live. https://plus.google.com/105317726432178137859/posts (Snowden's Super Secret Hiding Place).  :rolleyes:

 

I didn't realize that the problem was this widespread. The only 'false' listings in my town are caused by incorrect addresses or labels, and I think that has more to do with user error than any intentional spamming. 



#3 earlpearl

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 08:26 PM

@margoupson.  You are right.  when google takes down a listing in G maps it leaves a back door to recreate that listing via g + pages and reentering map maker (MM) then reconnecting via phone confirmation.  

 

Some years back when google maps was less developed, the visible spam on the first page of google.com on the map they would put up...could look like the map had measles for those categories wherein spammers were overactive.  I'm sure I could find some of those ...but google has curbed that.

 

I suspect the spammers concentrate more heavily in denser populations.  They are trolling for leads, often from the long tail searches.  There will be more of them in denser populations.

 

As to the first point...some years ago another maps spammer came clean with his methods and techniques.  Ultimately he did it to help...and to transition to a "clean work environment".   

 

Google penalized this guy.  It took some time for them to back off.  They couldn't figure out the difference between the "message" and the messenger.   Fortunately for that guy he is now happily working in white hat environment.



#4 margoupson

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 08:56 PM

To be fair, when the message is "I've been screwing with your service for years", I can see where the messenger might deserve just a bit of the repercussions. 

 

One of the comments on the third link mentioned that there's a problem with locksmiths in the Denver area, so I checked it out, and yeah. There are literally hundreds of locksmiths listed, most with generic business names and zero reviews. And you're right, it does look like a bad case of the measles.

 

Or, maybe Denver just has a lot of residents and tourists that lock their keys in their cars.  :lol:



#5 EGOL

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 09:01 PM

Somebody put up Google Plus pages for lots of businesses in my area. 

 

Now these naked pages are out there and nobody is doing anything with them.

 

I don't know who made these pages.  Nobody asked the business owners.  They just did it.

 

Was it google blasting out these pages with phone directory data?    They want to brag about how many businesses have Google Plus pages. If that is the case these pages are spam in my opinion. 

 

Or, was it the guys who keep calling me on the phone wanting to manage my local search presence?  I hang up on them because I don't want a local search presence, don't need one, it will only generate phone calls and walk ins that I don't want.

 

Who is making these?



#6 earlpearl

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Posted 26 February 2014 - 10:00 PM

Your friends at google

#7 glyn

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 03:08 AM

Thanks for sharing these and it really doesn't surprise me, when Google leaves the door wide open and the cost of CPC so high, why wouldn't you setup a black market.

 

Just noting a trend that I see in travel and tourism that might explain Google's reluctance to deal with this problem: Google wants as many people to be in Google Maps / Places / Business / Google+ so they can

 

a) Hit people up with marketing parc (it's an anagram) from their Google network.

b) Incorporate business information data more easily into their own products (difficult to scrape this with a degree of accuracy from the websites individually) because of those kind users delimiting in the relevant fields.

c) Be sure that Google can isolate the website a website and it's organic traffic and move it into the pack listings off the page.

 

On the last point, I ran a report on my T&T clients and saw how over the period of 3 years traffic that used to rank organically has just been reassigned to the PAC results, which largely don't convert for jack for hotels.

 

The funny thing is that the guy in the first link probably thought it was something that no-one knew about, whereas Google really cares diddly about accuracy if they've got an email address to send their bumph to.

 

G.



#8 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 10:11 AM

@margoupson:

 

The ability to spam google maps and its widespread application has been around basically since google introduced maps into the first page of google.com;  roughly since 2006.   

 

The spam, especially in certain categories has been wide wide wide spread.  The efforts by google to curtail it have been minimal over time.  I'd say the weight is on google to pick up its game.  Hence the taunting by the spammer that claims to be coming clean.  

 

Locksmith spam and theft is low visibility stuff.  You leave your car keys in the car and call a spammer because they are prominent on the web.  He/she quotes you $40 to perform and emergency door opening.  When the truck arrives, the tech won't do the job unless you pay him $80 or $120.   And that is illegal.  But its also often under the radar screen.  Its been going on for years.   Its spread into other industries.



#9 Walter

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 11:01 AM

So . . .  Just as a matter of curiosity and in the interest of completeness . . . how do you get past the mailed verification thing?

 

:)

 

Walter



#10 earlpearl

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 12:18 PM

I don't do map spam.   But I do a lot of heavy local stuff.  You can get control of a mobile, attach a google number to it or attach it directly to your name and use that.   For mail verification you need to control the mailing address and/or access to the mail.   These days google has opened up the doors to phone verification, which for honest folks has actually been better and quicker and keeps mail from being lost or redirected.

 

I would imagine if you are forced into mail verification you need to control that address or control access from the PO in some fashion.   If there are other ways they are beyond me.

 

But professional spammers have gotten control of lots of mail addresses and/or at least the verification post cards from google.  I'd venture to guess...what is the cost of $5 to get that post card from google given to you.???  ;)



#11 glyn

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 02:22 PM

Whats the cost of a sim card!

#12 Walter

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Posted 27 February 2014 - 04:55 PM

"What's the cost of a sim card!"

 

Or of a Skype number?



#13 earlpearl

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Posted 28 February 2014 - 09:02 AM

Follow Up Story:  Hacker creates fake FBI and Secret Service Offices and Tapes Calls

 

And here is a follow up story via the same hacker into google maps and some consequences:  http://valleywag.gaw...ls-w-1531334747

 

 

and a report on this from SearchEngineland additionally getting inside comments from Google saying they are putting a stop to this method that allows holes:  http://selnd.com/1fw701F


Edited by earlpearl, 28 February 2014 - 09:58 AM.




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