An auto dealer client’s GMB page was showing up in Google with a different domain (the car maker’s – attached to it only for certain queries. I started looking through all of the usual data suspects to see if the errant domain was connected to any of the dealer’s business listings and came up empty. Then I searched Google Mapmaker for the client’s business name to see if it had the domain perhaps on a dupe listing. It returned only one result:

Google MapMaker One Result

Nothing to see here, right? I was about to close out of MapMaker when I noticed something odd out of the corner of my eye in the map window:

Google MapMaker Dupe

Despite there being only one result for the query, there were three locations plotted on the map.

Upon further investigation, one of them had listed as its website which was the likely cause of our client’s SERP problem. If I hadn’t noticed those map pins, I would never have found this problem.

Google MapMaker 3 Points


The moral of the story – don’t trust the results in Google MapMaker.

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12 Response Comments

  • Joy Hawkins  January 2, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Did the dup show if you searched the phone number instead of the business name?

  • Linda Buquet  January 3, 2015 at 8:29 am

    VERY interesting Andrew! I’ll be paying closer attention to the base map layer in MM from now on.

  • Anand  January 3, 2015 at 10:28 am

    How did this get through moderation? I can already imagine all the blackhat SEOs exploiting this to include their websites on to unrelated businesses or even to competitors’ listings.

  • Andrew Shotland  January 3, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I don’t think this is the result of anything black hat – just bad data/user error. The dealer’s name has “Ford” in it so in a way it makes sense that is associated with it.

  • Anand  January 3, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Got that Andrew. I was just saying blackhat SEOs would actually exploit something like this – so if you are one of five florists in the neighborhood and none of them have an active website tagged to their map data, you could tag all of these businesses to your website link – since got through in your case, it is likely this will get through as well. And the result is everyone looking for florists on the map would end up in your website.

  • MiriamEllis  January 3, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Sharp eyes, Andrew, and a good thing to check in those mystery situations. BTW, enjoyed your predictions over at StreetFight. Happy New Year!

  • Andrew Shotland  January 3, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Anand, hijacked listings have been around since Google Maps launched and will continue to be. The weird thing about this case is that the URL only showed up for one specific query in the dealer’s market which we could not replicate. So creating a dupe listing with a different domain may not be the best use of your black hat resources.

    Thanks Miriam!

  • Chris Sanfilippo  January 3, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    good find and thanks for sharing! I will definitely be looking closer at the map view next time I’m in mm.

  • BlogRon  January 4, 2015 at 4:48 am

    I agree with Andrew here. I also do not think this is a black hat exploitation. It’s an bad input. The moderation can be done if you have a bad listing for your site.

  • Andrew Sawyer  January 4, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I’d like to see an unredacted version as the heavily redacted screenshot doesn’t actually show that anything is wrong with Map Maker.

    • Andrew Shotland  January 4, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Each redaction is just the business’ name, except for the result which also shows its address.