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In his funny but also somewhat disillusioning piece "Illusory Laptop Repair – A Most Elegant Google Places Hack", Mike Blumenthal explains a way to create virtual Places pages for shady purposes on Google.
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from mblumenthal 1415 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Is it ethical to divulge the black art of Places spam? Would love your opinions.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1415 Days ago #
Votes: 3

Sure, why not. That can help Google fix things, but in the meantime, everyone else can take advantage of the loopholes!

By making Places Pages so prominently featured in search results right now, Google has opened themselves up to mega super duper spamming. For some, it's going to be the only way to compete with Places Pages.

Even I'm not discouraging clients to have address/phone numbers in the various locations where they operate, as it may be necessary (if not already).

I don't think this is a good thing, but it's Google's bed that we have to lie in.




Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 1415 Days ago #
Votes: 1

Of course it is ethical! I mean, when Google thinks it's a good idea to plaster the SERPs with local crap that often is totally uncalled for, and on the other hand tells us that Web pages featuring genuine banner ads can't rank well, it's just fair play to max out their system. Seriously, such public spam reports are considered at the 'plex.



Avatar
from mblumenthal 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

For me, ethics are not a response to Google behaviors or practices but rather a way of moving through the world with thoughtfulness and reflexion.

It wasn't done in response to Google's other practices. It was done solely because I want to improve the quality of data in Local. I am hoping that shining the spotlight on some of the things that are degrading quality will speed that up.

Also, it always strikes me as odd, given Google's erratic enforcement of their rules, that the black hats would have access to techniques that most business's would not know about.

Knowledge and transparency seem to me to be key issues here, not a tit for tat...



Avatar
from WebmasterT 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Jill, really? so targeting traffic is not a concern? to try for these spots w/out an actual storefront is stupid... no other way to put it. If users are triggering Places results then gotta figure those peeps are looking to buy/consume offline and it is both degrading/spamming the results to be scheming for ways to be included where you do not DESERVE to be because the user does not want a virtual store.

I'm surprised Jill would advise much less use tactics like this. As to ethics... it doesn't break either real or moral laws unless deceiving a SE is against the "real law".

It is also stupid to bring ethics into it. It's a question of "is this good for the client's biz... not the SEO's biz! Ethics apply where real people are affected. It's just a waste of my time and my client's money to target traffic that is just a nuisance and waste of time for those searching.



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 1

How is it "stupid" if you offer services in a large geographic area of a state to want to target all those areas?

I wasn't talking about a store pretending to be in cities that they're not, but of services companies.



Avatar
from mblumenthal 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Webmaster

The ethical question for me revolves around my decision to divulge the information. Will it create a worse outcome than not divulging it. Not around the practice itself.




Avatar Moderator
from Sebastian 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

What Jill said.

Mike, you can use such a loophole as long as it works in silence, or spread the word so that a few others can make a quick buck or two before it becomes defunct. That's totally up to you, and in both cases you've done the right thing from your point of view.




Avatar
from Feydakin 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Mike, you've known about this for a few years and didn't 'just' figure it out, right??

@Jill, the intention of Places, IMO, is to offer results within a reasonable service area for the searcher.. If you have a web site that serves the entire world, is it reasonable to do this in every major city because you "serve" those areas, or was this intended for 'local businesses' to have an opportunity to compete locally.. So it would be up to the individual site / business owners to decide if their business serves a service area or not..



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 1

@Feydakin, I'm also not talking about the company that serves the world or the nation, but one who serves a geographical location...say a state, or New England, or the like. Say a construction company, or a home builder.

These are local businesses who should have a shot at showing up for the various towns they service.



Avatar
from mblumenthal 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Feydakin

Right, I have been holding out on you....




Avatar
from Feydakin 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

@Jill, agreed.. That particular vertical is a perfect example of a company with a far broader 'local' that Google may be willing to show.. I do know that you are capable of setting your service area in your places account.. That 'should' be enough to give that business a fair shot at appearing in a 'local' search.. Or you can choose to list the areas that you serve by city/state.. Does that make this particular tactic less palatable??

@Mike, I was hoping so.. This is a very old tactic that we were laughing and talking about a few weeks ago on the podcast.. Which, IMO, makes outting it sort of a non issue since not only is it a very old tactic, it's old enough that a lot of people thought it didn't work any more..



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

I do know that you are capable of setting your service area in your places account..


Hmm...I wasn't aware of that, but will look for it. I know we can do that with Adwords, but you can do it with your Places Page too?

Off to check! Thanks!



Avatar
from Feydakin 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Yup, just select the radio button that says

Yes, this business serves customers at their locations then you get all sorts of other options..



Avatar Moderator
from Jill 1414 Days ago #
Votes: 0

Oh yes, of course! I was in fact aware of this. I'll have to see if the particular client I was thinking of is doing this properly.

Does anyone know if it actually works in terms of showing the site in the map listings for the various towns?



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