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  1. #1
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    Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    I spoke a bit about this at the Inside Local webinar I was on back in the fall but wanted to post this information here as well. Since Pigeon there has been a lot of spam and we've had some success on reporting competitors of our clients that are completely breaking guidelines (fake addresses, keyword-stuffed titles etc). I wanted to share this little guide of tips i use.

    When to Delete a Listing vs. Close a Listing:

    • A listing should be deleted if it was never there to begin with (Ex: a PO Box, Virtual Office). Source. If you want to delete a listing that is currently marked closed, you have to open it first and then delete it.
    • A listing should be marked closed if it was there at some point but has moved or closed down.



    What Should I do about SABs that Didn't Hide Their Address?
    • Edit the listing using Report a Problem (RAP) and strike out the address and in the comments field point out that the business does not have customers come to their location (and use the website of the business as a reference for proving that).


    How do I tell if it's a Fake Address?

    Often spammers will make up addresses that don't exist (Ex: 105 Brick Lane when in reality Brick Lane only has addresses that go up to 100). You can verify the address to see if it's real by looking it up on USPS.

    Always use References to Prove you are Right!

    I can't take credit for these, Dan Austin told me this.

    • Satellite and street view imagery (i.e. “It’s visible in street view. It’s the thing with the big sign that says ‘Right here!'”)
    • Reference Google Maps or MM itself (for example, use the shortlinks for POIs on MM (open the POI in a separate tab, link that way))
    • Personal experience/observation (i.e. “I live there”)
    • General google search that references specific facts (usually without linking to a specific website–i.e. “I read in the news that the I-90 pass near Snoqualmie was wiped out in a rock and snow slide, and will be closed indefinitely”)
    • MM or Places Help policies, forum posts from MM or Places staff announcing policy
    • Official business websites (Facebook if it’s the only website for the business)
    • Government websites that references facts in the public domain
    • Photos from Panoramio if they’re embedded in Google Earth/Maps
    • Generally speaking, Google relies on SV (satellite and street view), Googling it, business websites (as above) and MM guidelines both documented and unpublished as their main guides for determining the veracity of an edit.
    • Do NOT reference other online directories (Ex: Yelp says this business is at this address…)
    • Use shortlinks in the comment section, as full complicated URLs sometimes error out an edit.
    • Copypasting the comments you wrote before hitting the publish button (because of errors, you might need to paste the comment in again).


    What if my Edit gets Denied?

    • Press the "I Object" button and the edit will get re-reviewed
    • Post on the MapMaker Forum
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    Last edited by Linda Buquet; 01-14-2015 at 07:44 AM. Reason: image added by Linda for Google+ sharing
    Joy Hawkins
    Owner of Sterling Sky
    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.
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  3. #2
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Thanks for sharing Joy. It would be great to see everyone step up to fighting spam. Lots of junk out there.
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  4. #3
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Thanks so much for copying your tips for our webinar here at the forum Joy.

    GREAT INFO!

    I agree with you! Post Pigeon, local spam seems worse, not better!

    I just shared on G+ and pinged Flash and Andrew, 2 of the expert mappers and hope they'll weigh in with tips as well. Will email Dan to see if he has anything to add as well!
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".
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  5. #4
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    I don't have much to add to my own advice(!), but I will point out that my most recent tests of Maps RAP for reporting spam are, well, not good. MM still remains the best way to report and remove spam, although they still won't touch SABs with hidden addresses, even though they can access that information from their terminals. I have a full report on the Local U forums that I gathered up from various sources (including Google itself) that might shed more light on how Google works with Maps data.

    I submitted a series of spam locksmith reports within the last 60 days using Maps RAP, and beyond the initial acknowledgement email, I haven't received any action taken response from Google. That leads me to believe that the reports are being warehoused in one of Google's data centers, and they're simply choosing not to act on them unless the POI is well-trafficked, and/or of critical nature (like a hotel), and they're ignoring all the rest. (I also submitted reports for photos from spammers on a legit locksmith page, as well as spam reviews and spam Google+ profiles.)

    My overall sense of the spam mitigation effort at Google is that they are not interested in removing the spam, because it's a decision-making process that requires their reviewers to use considerable judgment and experience in making that determination, and it involved some research beyond just street view, Googling it, and looking over the website.

    The primary concern of the listing editors--many of the Maps RAP reports are funneled to--is focused on a few points, namely marker location, address, telephone, address, and name. They're not looking for or at spam--unlike previous iterations of the Maps RAP (Report a problem), there's no checkbox to report spam, and the report itself is largely disconnected from Map Maker, making it difficult, if not impossible to track the status of the report (especially if it's a SAB with hidden address, which is also hidden from MM).

    Google probably has considerable turnover of their LE staff, making it harder to train them, and they want to throw them in with minimal training. Mitigating spam is a qualitative judgment that doesn't "scale", especially in countries that have poor legal data infrastructure. By way of comparison, in the US and Canada, it's relatively easy to look up government licensing databases. In other countries, it may not be so easy to do from the comfort of a terminal. My own personal estimate is that it takes about 30 seconds to do a lookup and make the determination as to what is or isn't spam, which is ample time to deal with spam reports.

    However, Google has never been one to enforce their own guidelines, unless one of their PMs goes on a crusade, like they did with hiding SABs, in which case they'll devote a lot of resources to it. Not dealing with spam, and turning it over to fairly crude spam algorithms, is a cost and ideological decision--Google doesn't like to play whack-a-mole, and they prefer to automate over hiring people.

    However. This has been my experience and perspective, and may not accurately reflect the experience of other people. I don't want to discourage anyone from reporting spam, it's just that removing spam has become progressively more difficult, compared to the Wild West days when MM was introduced in the US in April of 2011, when you could remove thousands of spam listings, including locksmiths, with little trouble at all. Google has locked down various aspects of that process, from locking categories like locksmiths, to isolating SABs from MM, that have slowed the process of spam mitigation to an absolute halt, and have advantaged the spammers, who don't care about the rules and are always looking for a way around the few hurdles that are left.
    Last edited by Linda Buquet; 01-14-2015 at 12:28 PM. Reason: Added some paragraph breaks to make for easier reading
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  6. #5
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Thanks very much for this post. I used it just now to try and delete one spam listing for a virtual address and edit another listing.


    Lloyd Silver
    Cairn Marketing
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Thanks for weighing in and for your original tips in Joy's post Dan.

    Your maps insider knowledge is helpful to folks like me who don't live on the maps side of things.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".
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  8. #7
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Thanks for posting! I admit I am a bit of a slacker on objecting to denials Which is pretty bad because 90% of the time edits get denied-- it's normal.

    Post-Pigeon in Canada I'm seeing lots of spam and one boxes like this one (https://www.google.ca/?gws_rd=ssl#q=...in+mississauga)

    Click on Maps and you'll see even more spam like "Condos For Sale & Lease In Mississauga", "House for Sale in Mississauga", "Real Estate", "Mississauga Real Estate Agent | Mario Angel", "Search Realty: Homes for Sale".....

    They're all crap! I seriously hope this gets fixed without resorting to mapmaker reporting.
    Hurricane K8
    Leavens Auto Group (London, Orillia, Chatham - Ontario,Canada)
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  9. #8
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Kate you can post them in the MM forum and see if mappers there will help you get them taken down.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! Subscribe to Daily Email Digest Here

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon".
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  10. #9
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    Good idea I'm just reporting them all now, so I'll do that when I'm finished... It's a big job!
    Hurricane K8
    Leavens Auto Group (London, Orillia, Chatham - Ontario,Canada)
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  11. #10
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    Re: Tips for Reporting Spam in MapMaker

    I don't have anything to add; Report spam features!
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