Even if you aren't totally tuned into and interested in Google Local spam, like some of us are, you need to read this. Because spammers to a large degree control many moves Google makes and can cause changes to verification and other processes that make your job as a local search consultant harder.

Plus as I always say in my training "You need to learn to think like Google" and part of that is understanding and identifying certain spam patterns that can trip a filter.

Nyagoslav Zhekov, who is now Director of Local Search at Whitespark did an excellent job interviewing Dan Austin, who went into great detail about the current state of Google Local spam and his take on the changes Google made due to all the recent bad press.

Changes To Google Maps And the Eternal Battle Against Spam: An Interview with Dan Austin

Google Maps and spam. These two have been moving together ever since one of Google’s most prominent products started gaining unrivaled popularity in the area of searching for immediate, real world information online. A few weeks ago, in an attempt to bring awareness to the problem, I conducted an empirical experiment and proved that there was at least one way to relatively easily create and verify a fake business entry of any kind and with any name on Google Maps.

Later on, Bryan Seely, a Google Maps enthusiast, who was indirectly involved in the article (through his “work”) went on a sort of rampage against Google, discussing, and proving, a number of exploits in front of national media. One of those caught the attention of the Secret Service. As it has been proven in the past, the alarm should start ringing really loudly for Google to pay attention. Thus, as a result of this sequence of events, Google started quietly making a number of changes to their internal systems and processes related to Maps.

I asked Dan Austin, one of the most vocal critics of Google Maps, and one of the most experienced anti-spam volunteers on Google Map Maker, to share his observations on what has been changed in that area in the past few weeks.
This is a long and heady piece and I don't even have time to take it all in right now. I'm going to have to sit down and read in detail this weekend.

But I wanted to give you just one little example of what I said above about "You need to learn to think like Google and part of that is understanding and identifying certain spam patterns that can trip a filter."

I've had legit business owners here at the forum ask about using a VOIP # on their listing and I try to explain why it's not a good idea - mainly because even though it's a legit option, many spammers use it.

In the interview Dan says "As of April 1, Google, reinstated phone verification, preventing spammers from using that option to verify their listings if they have a VOIP forwarding number."

Anyway read the rest and you will likely need to read it a couple times. Good stuff!