Google local hasn’t proven to be any Fort Knox for locksmith companies who want multiple listings. Some of these companies appear not to be local companies at all but rather national referral companies who masquerade as local businesses. These companies have become so good at getting in Google local business results they’re jeopardizing Google’s reputation for providing quality search results, at least in the area of local search.
Do a search on many major metropolitan areas around the country and you’ll find that when it comes to locksmiths Google’s local listings look like this screen shot. Here MiamiLockSmith.com has captured 3 of the 10 spots. AllTimeLockSmith.com has captured 2 and Locksmith-in-Miami.com has captured another 2. If you click on a Lock-Smith-in-Miami.com and surf down to the bottom of the page you’ll find links to, locksmith-in-new-york.com, locksmith-in-chicago.com, locksmith-in-las-vegas.com. It becomes pretty clear pretty quickly that these are all the same company, but it’s even more clear when you pick up the phone call the local numbers and they’re all answered by the same person that you’re not reaching a “local” company.
The results in Denver are similar with denverlocallocksmith.com having four of the local listings. Althought the (303) 274-2233 listing is on their site the person who answers all of the numbers is the same.
Hijacked Google local listings is something Mike Blumenthal has reported on a number of times. The issue is different but related to the one I’ve brought up above. However what’s really troubling is how Google appears to be not addressing the issue. In his March 10th post Mike drew a big old red arrow on a screen shot that shows 24x7locallocksmith.com hijacked a hotel listing. Today while researching this post I looked at locksmith listings for NYC and guess what I found.
It’s the same URL as Mike pointed out i.e. same company. According to Google Maps guide Jen in a comment on Mike’s blog they’ve fixed the problem. To what extent have they fixed it? In Mike’s post the company was claiming a hotel listing with 800 reviews now there are 65 for the Fairmont. Apparently after Google fixed it this company was able to go right back out and perpetrate the same scam again.
So here’s my question, why didn’t Google just boot 24x7locallocksmith.com from their index. This is not a difficult manouver for them, so did they just not think of it? Google has created a Map Spam form but what good is it if they aren’t going to use it to remove these kinds of listings completely. That’s not to say I want them to get trigger happy, frankly their process for modifying and removing old listings when you replace them with new ones doesn’t always work that well and they could end up punishing innocent businesses, but in this case and in a lot of cases they have all the evidence to show that the spam is intentional and they should go ahead and boot the url from their index.
Map spam is so rampant, and certainly not just a locksmith problem that you have to wonder how much good a form is going to do. If Google wants to get serious about the problem of single companies dominating the results, which in most cases translates to spam) for one local search querry what the above shows is that a good start would be to set up their algorithm so that no URL gets more than one spot. Obviously attention has to be paid to subdomains as the miami.miamilocksmith.com land coral-gables.miami locksmith isting above shows, but they can work with this as well. In the case of local listings consumer choice equals quality listings.