“Map Spam” Revisited
Many have responded and commented since the last posting on “Map Spamming by Lead Generation Services”. Some of you have asked me to go into further detail about the structure that such a group would have, and why Google doesn’t chop them off at the knees for all of the spam There is no easy answer to this question. The best answer is that Google is getting to big to police itself even though it continues to change tactics.
The average location can search the term “Flood Damage” on their map right now and you’ll encounter a group of fake “24 Hr Response groups” that have the same pictures and the same coupons on all of their listing pages. Worse yet, they only exist(and I use the term “exist” lightly) on the map at locations that have never heard of them. This specific group has fake “flood damage cleanup” companies across the entire country. In Naperville alone, we can find at least 15 such locations that are completely fake. In the Chicago area, there are over 1,000 different map locations that are complete Spam. Again, while it is important to report them to Google, don’t be surprised if it takes a while for anything to be done about them. Google sells ad space to some of them and doesn’t seem to want them to go away to quickly.
You may ask, why is this such a big deal to Naper Design? It is a good question, and one that deserves a proper answer. This group was formally asked to remove their fake listings from one City area in Norther Illinois. A client of our was having issues with being seen on the map. Rather than immediately go to Google with the complaint,we called the company and made a simple request to have them pull just these 4 fake locations. Instead of being ok with our request, they began harassing us with unlisted numbers, and would call in the middle of the night with claims that the were from the mob(as if a mob member would ever make that claim). It was pathetic, but should show you just how much they value this business. They make quite a fortune off of the small businesses who have to purchase the leads back from the people who stole from them.
In the case of these Carpet Cleaning and 24 Hour Flood Damage Cleanup Companies, they like to take their scam to an even higher level. Having been caught by Google before, they leave fake identifying logos on their site. They claim to be members of The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), but the fuzzed picture is an obvious fake. This is a common tactic of those who are wishing to Scam the consumer, “claim you’re certified in something”.
While Google has been made aware of their fake sites, this can take some time. There are still several sites within this thread of Google’s support blog that pay mention to companies that have yet to be removed.
The frustration is there because Google is still slow in responding to people who are playing by the rules. The fakes and spammers out there have caused for contractors here in Naperville, Chicago, Michigan, California and New York to completely go out of business. Worse still is the upcharge that these lead generation services add to the price of the work to be performed. The mark-up can be hundreds of Dollars just to reach the guys you wanted to contact to begin with.
While it may not be to kosher, I do support Re-Spamming. Several of us have begun looking up these fake companies and leaving negative comments to let people know they are Scammers and Spammers. We don’t see this as negative or even spam since we are leaving legitimate feedback on these profiles… Unlike the fake ones they leave for themselves.
With hope, this will clear the map in the Naperville and Chicago area and allow for local contractors to conduct business more effectively. The last thing we need during a recession are all of the lead groups steeling business from local contractors