Google Local listing and Google Maps link spam is still a big problem. As a Google Local Guide, I continue to see link spam attacks across entire cities and neighborhoods when I review Google local listings. In most of the cases, I see the same domain name being spammed over and over again, and in many cases the domains/sites that are linked don’t resolve.
Let’s take a look at an example of a whole city (Athens, Texas) that has been link spammed on many businesses’ local Google maps listings:
In the case shown above, this is Callaway’s Coffee bistro. As a Google Local Guide, I use my phone in my spare time to clean up and review local maps listings. As you can see, using the Google Maps app, I use the map to find local listings where users have suggested/recommended changes to Google maps listings, also called Google Local Listings. In most of the cases I see, like this one, someone has suggested that a certain URL is the official website for this place, Callaway’s Coffee and Bistro, in Athens, Texas.
As you can see, though, the link spammer has suggested that callawayscoffeebistro.domain.info is this place’s official website. Well, it’s not. It’s a subdomain of a domain name, and a .INFO domain name. While some businesses do use .INFO, this puts up a red flag for me. I have manually checked a few of these, and often times they’re not URLs that currently resolve, or it will resolve to a GoDaddy landing page.
In this case, though, the link spammer has chosen to actually put up an automated website, along with Google AdSense:
Scrolling down, there’s additional Google AdSense on the page. This domain/site owner has literally link spammed their URL (using subdomains that are supposed to look like a local business website) on what’s most likely thousands of local Google listings. When reviewing listings for a particular city, town, or neighborhood, I’ll see the same domain link spammed over and over again.
What’s also interesting, is that not only will the page have Google AdSense on the page, it will also have the Json+LD markup code for the business. So, I’m assuming that this is one way that Google is associating this particular web page (subdomain) with the local business.
If someone from Google wants to investigate this and the fraud that they’re doing, the Pub ID is pub-7938775459604144. The source code of the page loads images from mercadodaweb.com, Mercado da Web. Searching for that domain name in Google will reveal some of the domain names and subdomain spam that is being done.
As a Google Local Guide, it’s rewarding for me to clean up local maps listings, especially in the cities and neighborhoods that I frequent. It’s also very frustrating to continue to come across Google Maps link spam like this over and over again.
One of the issues that contributes to this problem of Google Maps link spam, though, is the fact that local businesses don’t claim their Google listings or use Google My Business. They just don’t understand that it should be a priority for them, and many local businesses outside of major cities don’t take the time to even Google their business. Based on my recent experience with local businesses outside of major cities, I’m seeing them more interested in setting up a Facebook page than verifying their Google My Business listing. As such, they don’t check their Google maps listing, and don’t know that someone has tried to claim their listing or suggest another website for their local listing.