Archive for April, 2009

Google Maps Locksmith Spam Creeping into Canada (Toronto)

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

With all the discussions going on about locksmith spam by my colleagues in the USA I decided to do a little check to see if it’s going on in Canada. Well it is. It’s not heavy, yet, but it’s here.

Mike Blumenthal has plenty of posts about it and has been a pretty loud voice for some serious quality control in Google Maps. Those posts, as well as others about merged listings, have been getting lots of comments and is spawning others in the search industry to demand that Google do something about the problems in Maps.

Here’s the Locksmith Scene in NY

First, from Will Scott’s post about Locksmiths in New York City this is what it looks like in the USA.

New York Locksmiths in Google Maps

Yes, New York has the measles, not swine flu (or H1N1, or Mexican Flu, or North American Flu, or whatever flu you prefer to name it) but the measles. Each one of those red dots is, supposedly, a locksmith shop. Yeah right.

Locksmiths in Toronto

Now in Canada. I chose Toronto. Huge Metropolitan city of 5 million people. Surely a large enough market for a spam fest.

Toronto Locksmiths

You don’t quite see it in the Map view so much, except for some clustering at the corner of Young and Bloor and down in the Financial District at King and Bay St. Perhaps with collapsing economies the fund managers and financial analysts are locking themselves in the office threatening to jump, hence the need for a dozen locksmiths in a two block radius. I should ask my cousin Craig about that.

Toronto Locksmiths in Local 10 Pack

They are not heavily using lots of the aggressive Map spam tactics, some dubious looking reviews, some silly stock photography for images, and a number of youtube videos, from different youtube accounts, “submitted by the business owner”. But when you look at the websites, yes those ones with the obvious domain names, most of these sites are interlinking with each other.

Interlinking locksmiths in Local Business Center

hmmmmmmmm. I wonder. Seems some of them might legitimately have more than one location, and using separate websites for them. But….like I said, slightly dubious.

Looks to me like it’s mostly a matter of old school aggressive/spammy, not quite black hat, organic SEO tactics that have been going on for some time, and it’s spilling over into Maps. That and competition in Canada is that much lower the spammers don’t have to resort to working so hard as in the US. Interestingly I found that some of the Toronto sites are using a Portland, Oregon SEO company (maybe that’s David Mihm doing some moonlighting on the dark side, lol) who is working with locksmith sites in Atlanta, Denver, Dallas and other US cities.

So the locksmith industry is looking a little shady in Canada too. Nowhere near to the extent it is in some US locations, but map spam still the same.