Google Maps Locksmith Spam Creeping into Canada (Toronto)

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.

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4 Comments to “Google Maps Locksmith Spam Creeping into Canada (Toronto)”

David Mihm on April 30th, 2009 wrote:

Wow, you got me Steve. I was hoping no one would find out about my other life in the seedy underbelly of search.

In all seriousness, I am amazed that there seem to be three legitimate locksmiths ranking in the 10-pack for this search (City Wide, Spadina, and Pre-Lock) which is a much better result than Google typically serves for this kind of thing.

Stever on April 30th, 2009 wrote:

I’m not so sure about one of those 3 you mentioned. The reviews look off, and they have a multitude of other websites, their own, that are both linking to and placing address referrals to the site that is ranking in the 10 pack.

Given the lower level of competition, as in numbers of locksmiths willing to step into using the spam techniques, I’m not surprised that there are a few legit listings showing amongst them. It’s also a function of the data set. For Canada they are coming from one source, not a multitude of YP directories and the likes, so we’re not seeing the YP spam creeping in either.

PureSheer on April 30th, 2009 wrote:

Stever,

Scammers hit Toronto (the first city that got spammed by the scammers) 6 months ago. My company is giving internet services to one of Canada’s biggest Locksmith company (I’ll uncover myself & the companies I’m representing in 3 weeks from now so no ??? will be left out).

I know for sure (!!) that the same company that spamming US cities is the one that spamming Toronto. However, 90% of the phone #s are leading directly to their technicians in the field (so after calling & asking- you get answers like “I’m the tech. & not dealing with advertising, etc..).

The company I’m representing in CA, like the one I’m representing in the US, is fighting for its life in order to survive the battle.

I’ve posted numerous complaints in Google’s Help Groups, but as always, didn’t received any answers. So I “grabbed my shot gun” & started to defend my listings from hijacking (which happened countless times) & I’ve been forced to spam Gmaps (I know all the black hats tactics & I revealed 40% of them with Mike’s blog, but I can guaranty- I’ll not use them no matter what).

The rules in Canada’s Gmaps are totally different from the US ones- for instance- the SMS verification option is another good way to verify multiply listings.

When will Google stop this madness? Is it that difficult to approve listings by postcards ONLY (retroactively as well- for listings that are already online)?

Thanks for your article. I think it’s serving more people than you can imagine!

Jeet on May 1st, 2009 wrote:

How do you know a technology / website has become popular and has gone mainstream? Simple, it has spammers, it must be good :))

NY has more locksmiths than I have seen anywhere, but if I really need one, will I be able to find them quickly? How often do people require locksmiths? Is this so competitive niche that they will resort to these aggressive spamming techniques?

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