1000 Locksmiths in New York City
February 18th, 2009 by
My friend Matt McGee sent an email last night in which he discovered a new feature of Google Maps.
This makes for some very interesting results:
Restaurants New Orleans
David Mihm The Lazarus Project psp ‘s favorite:
Locksmiths in New York City
Must be a lot of locks in all those tall buildings to need so many locksmiths.
This is an interesting development which makes me wonder about the statistical likelihood of one moving from the main search engine results to the maps view.
If I had to guess i’d say it seems likely that this will lead to a wider implementation which will lead to stronger calls to action from the main search engine results page.
So, funny story – I’m in New York for Search Engine Strategies and find myself invited to dinner by Yelp with my friend Mat Siltala (in all honesty they would have never invited me without him :)).
The yelpers brough along a couple of happy customers. One was the guys who run the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck – an only in NY kind of thing – and the other was, drumroll please, a Locksmith! NYC is famous thanks to this post and a couple others for Locksmith spam. But here’s this guy, an honest and dependable practicioner having dinner with us in the East Village NY. Locksmiths, to hear him tell it, may deserve their bad rap, but Jay publishes prices right on his site and has nothing but 5 star reviews on Yelp.
Wow..It looks like New York has the chicken pox of locksmiths!
I was contacted by a locksmith in NYC to optimize their map listing to push it into the ten pack. I looked at their map listing and it looked strong. The client sounded honest so I said I’d take the job. Then I looked at the map a little more closely. This is about the time Google introduced the little red dots to indicate other business that weren’t in the top ten. The entire island of Manhattan was drenched in red dots. There were thousand of them. I couldn’t believe it. I had already received payment so I continued with the job. In the course of my work I discovered it wasn’t uncommon for a single locksmith to have over a hundred listings. Bottom line I pushed my client into the number one position using tried and proven legitimate SEO techniques.
Your guy appears to be doing great. He also appears to have a whole bunch of spammy reviews. Is that part of your process or does he have another vendor helping out?
Your post from a little while ago showed how absurd Google Maps has become caused by the spammers. Now this hyper active locksmith spammer has managed to visit your site and told us how he did a great job using standard methods of SEO to help his “client” achieve high rankings.
First off I worked in commercial real estate for about two decades. Often I leased office buildings. I worked in one of the largest office markets in the nation. Office building owners/ and particularly owners of multiple buildings are one of the favorite customers of locksmiths.
Over the course of a year they are one of the largest clients of a locksmith. I can’t emphasize how important it is for the relatively few locksmiths in any market to play up to office building owners. The building owners are often one of the largest clients an active locksmith can have.
There are very few active locksmiths in a market. I repeat there are very few active locksmiths in a market. The above map which you portrayed a short while ago is a prime example of how vulnerable…and how subject to spam Google Maps has become. Its simply not a quality source of information, especially so long as it is subject to spam attacks.
Then we get to our friend “MyMapInfo” whose name links to Artie’s website. He may well be the “Al” who created one of the reviews now showing in Google’s reviews of Arties. Its funny. Al also wrote rave reviews about a couple of “so called” other locksmiths. Scroll down and look at a couple of the other “avid reviewers” of Arties.
They include Yogu, Mangesh, Satchian, Atul, and Mandar…to name a few. Each of these avid reviewers also reviewed several other locksmiths; giving each of them absolutely rave reviews. The above “lovers of locksmiths” all wrote reviews in the first two weeks of April for our friends at Arties.
Its beyond absurd. Its outright clear manipulation. Having participated in studies that were published and having read the patents by Google that cover Google Maps and some of the characteristics that can impact rankings within Google Maps….it is patently clear that our friend “MyMapInfo” is simply manipulating the existing elements that impact rankings in Maps.
Its sad. Some poor unsuspecting customers might call this business….simply because it is ranked first in Google Maps. In fact those customers might get ripped off, or be quoted one price on the phone and then hit by a huge price increase by the unscrupulous Locksmith. Already this is under investigation by one responsable State Attorney in one state where similar “manipulation” of web results is causing harm to consumers.
Its pretty ludicrous. Having known some locksmiths….they aren’t that busy….not busy enough to garner all those “rave reviews in a few short bursts of weeks during 2008 and 2009.
One would think that Google would have the common sense to take a look at the reviews…then get rid of them. They are obviously manipulative. They could learn from Yahoo Local. Yahoo Local receives commentary on elements within its version of Local/Maps and responds.
Should Google take actions like this it would have several beneficial results including:
1. Some poor unsuspecting customers wouldn’t be ripped off.
2. Google wouldn’t look so stupid in its representations of locksmiths across the country.
3. Our friend “MyMapsInfo” who might well be the “Al” who similarly provided sterling reviews on a BUNCH of locksmiths….might have to find something else to do.
Keep up the good work, Will
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It would be great to have a tame discussion without getting holier than thou. To start with, I’m not a review spammer, and review spam doesn’t put you in the number one position. That would be too easy. Everybody would be doing it. But for the record most of the reviews were there before on came on board.
But since we are on the subject of reviews let’s explore that. I’m sure the good SEO’s of this board read the Google Support Group and I’m sure they have read countless user after countless user complaining saying,
“Hey, those are not my reviews on my listing, they are the reviews of the competitor”. Some how the competitors reviews were meshed with their reviews. Well, guess what. This happened to Artie. If you look at the reviews you will see that many are from another business Aaron Hotz.
Also, if reviews were the key you would expect Expert Locksmith with 109 reviews to be ahead of Artie instead of in 5th place.
This, of course, brings us to the real issue. Everybody knows their are rogue locksmiths. Some have been prosecuted for their malicious activity. They come into a city, flood the Google listings with duplicate listings, practice covert techniques, and push legitimate locksmiths off the front page.
That’s what happened to Artie’s. He’s been in the business 24 years. He had high rankings. He had a good search result position, and he found himself swept out of the top 10. He hired a crew to help. They may have hurt more than helped. They called on me. I didn’t know what kind of cut throat business I was getting into. Artie was legitimate locksmith being buried.
At any rate the prior company did what they could to maintain their listing. I don’t blame them. What do you do when rogue competition is pushing you out of business. You fight back. You have never heard of the word spam except you know it is being used against you.
I consoled the crew to clean up their act. They worked with Google to get things straight, clean, and tidy. They even consulted with the venerable Blumenthall. After a lot of work, things looked better, but they still weren’t in the ten pack.
We employed a few technique that the esoteric academic SEO’s still haven’t discovered as they chase their long and short tails. But they are legitimate and they work.
Then we turned to traditional Google sanctioned techniques that all SEO’s use. That pushed Artie up the ladder into first place.
Instead of bagging on Artie, a better question would have been, what are all of these listings doing in the top ten that don’t have and meat to them. How did they get there.
Well, that’s probably simple. Illigitimate link farms and fake traffic. But that’s not out there in your face. It’s the religious person with a closet of porn. Hey, the listing looks clean on the outside, but who cares if all of this bogus traffic is pushing them into favorable ranking.
Somehow, I feel like that movie when Jack Nicholson says you can’t handle the truth. I’m a war vet. They trained us one way in the states and when we got into combat they said, forget all of that stuff you learned. This is a real war and this is how we do it.
This is about all I have to say on the subject. But look at the entire picture before you cast stones.
And remember these points
1) the total count of reviews are only part of the quotient. Remember, their are competing listings with more reviews than artie. By the argument presented in the original post, there would probably never be more than two or three reviews for any industry.
2) a lot of SEO’s don’t have a clue to legitimate techniques that move map listings. They’ve been too busy in the web world that is an entirely different dynamic.
3) what’s an honest business to do when their lively hood is snatched from them.
4) Somebody is actually going to complain about a sexy photo. Hello. Do you live in a cave. Take a look at the real world.
Yeah, let’s be all nerdy and put down the people out their in the field dealing with the real world.
Actually, I just realized most of my answer was in response to a different blog rather than this one. My apologies. But it is still a fun good discussion.
I’m honored you mistook me for Mr. Shotland @ http://www.localseoguide.com/ 🙂 I’ll look forward to seeing your commentary over there as well.
You know what MyMapInfo. I agree with you and I will update my post. That said, I think you could have avoided this issue in the first place by not creating the appearance of comment spamming by linking to your client’s site.
MyMapInfo you might also help your case by not shilling so hard for your own business when you’re helping out in the Google Maps forum.
The majority of your posts end with a sales message or a link to your own blog. I’m not trying to be unduly harsh, but Andrew has a point regarding your signature links which were formerly pointing to your client.
Just a thought.
Check it out.
Next time I am in NYC I expect Artie to introduce me to his little friend. 🙂
Sorry for the comment spam Will…
Andrew, your spam is always welcome here.
In reference to MYMAPInfo: You left out one CRITICAL detail in your posting: Artie’s and Aaron-Hotz ARE THE SAME COMPANY !!!!!!!! Do a little homework and look up their address…and I’m sure you are well aware of this, your protestations notwithstanding. Also, Artie’s went from having a handful of reviews to over 60 reviews within a 2 week period; if you click on the reviewer’s names, most of them don’t even exist anymore . They may in fact be a decent company looking to stay afloat, but they are guilty of overwhelming spammy practices .
P.S. for Artie’s to protest the “fact” that many of the reviews are for “another company”, i.e. Aaron-Hotz, is complete nonsense .
They are the same company !
Thanks for the additional info. I still love the fact that these guys outed themselves on my blog to the whole local search community.
The above map which you portrayed a short while ago is a prime example of how vulnerable…and how subject to spam Google Maps has become. Its simply not a quality source of information, especially so long as it is subject to spam attacks.
I was contacted by a locksmith in Sacramento to optimize their map listing to push it into the ten pack.
Spamming my blog may not be the way to help your client.
The numbers are really hudge…thanks for the great peice of share..! Well every one needs locksmith..!! Lolz.!
This post is great. Thank you for this post.
I like this type of people who share knowledge with others.