SEOs Make Microsoft & Yahoo An Example on Google Maps Hijacking Hole

Oct 31, 2008 • 7:40 am | comments (1) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Local Search Engine Tips & Optimization

Mike Blumenthal has been covering Google Maps spam since Google Maps came out. I guess he got sick of covering the issues and not much being done about stopping it. He decided to do something a bit extreme. He hijacked Microsoft's listing in Google Maps and made them a Microsoft Escort Service. He also messed around with profiles, here is one example:

Google Maps Hijacking

Danny Sullivan has a really enjoyable read on how Mike did this.

While some SEOs and webmasters are shocked this can happen, those of us who have been around and watching the space has known this has been going on for a while now. Who is to blame? Businesses should validate and acquire their Google Maps listings? Do they even know they are able to do so? Are they aware? Is ignorance an excuse?

Meanwhile, Maps Guide Brian, an official Google Maps representative posted a Google Groups thread stating that they will be upgrading the Local Business Center:

Please note that that the Local Business Center will be undergoing scheduled maintenance today, October 30th, and again on November 6th. We appreciate your patience as we work to continue to improve this product!

Hopefully this upgrade or maintenance will help prevent some of these issues. I know Google is a big target and the more features and tools they release, the more susceptible they become to becoming targeted. It is a tough business and sometimes it can be hurtful. You build tools to help people (of course also make money) and people come in and abuse it.

Forum discussion at Sphinn #1, Sphinn #2 and Google Groups.

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Mike Blumenthal

11/01/2008 12:39 am

Just for the record, the bogus profiles were Danny's work. :) Any hijacking I did, was using my own profile. I really just wanted to see if it could be done and how easy it was. The answer was it can be done and it is very easy. The other point is that the more educated everyone is, the better able we will be to spot and stop local listing abuses. For the system to really work and for 15 million business to want to claim their record it needs to be trust worthy and reasonably safe. That being said, any system like the community edit feature in Google Maps, that to avoid abuse and theft, requires 15 million business to take some action is bound to be exploited for illicit reasons. Danny made a number of suggestions as to how to prevent and or stop the lunacy any of which Google could have easily implemented prior to rolling the feature out. Mike

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