Google claims to be working on it, but is still focused on profits as local businesses are preventing visibility on paid ads. In Google Maps
Google Maps has about 11 million false local listings, with hundreds of thousands more created each month, the Wall Street Journal reported. These fake lists are pushing real business down local search results and affecting their ability to reach customers and make unchallenged users easy targets for scammers.
Google claims to be aware of the problem and says it plans to do more to combat spammers and scammers using local listings. Obviously, it’s not in the company’s best interest to jeopardize customer trust, and yet, as many marketers point out, it should be profitable when local businesses turn to paid ads to bring back search visibility.
The “duress verticals” and “spam” business names scam
First, looking at the problem. The expert survey conducted by WSJ shows that most of the leading repair, towing, electricians, contractors, attorneys, movers and other vehicle service categories are not to be found at the addresses displayed on Google Maps. Internally at Google, the paper said, these categories are referred to as “duress verticals,” because of their provision for scams built to convince victims when they are at their most vulnerable.
These spam businesses flood local search results by setting up fake profiles on Google My Business (GMB), the free service that puts your business listings on Google search and Google Maps. This dilutes the visibility of searches for legitimate business listings, robs those businesses of potential customers and exposes users to fraud.
Google’s failure to take down fake business listings and validate true listings is frustrating for many business owners and marketers. Joe Youngblood, an SEO and digital marketing consultant, said the problems legitimate businesses face with Google My Business. “Hi @GoogleMyBiz still has some real business with suspended accounts. Meanwhile, fake junk companies are popping up with virtual office addresses everywhere. It’s been almost a full week, can you please respond to those ??”, Youngblood tweeted this week.
During Amazon’s Q1 earnings call earlier this year, CFO Brian T. Olsavsky announced that the company would be “evolving” two-day free shipping for Prime members to one-day shipping. He added that Amazon would spend $800 million to do so, although now it’s probably going to cost more.
One-day shipping = $24 billion in revenue. According to a research note earlier this week, RBC analyst Mark Mahaney projected that one-day shipping would increase adoption of Prime memberships and boost purchasing by existing Prime members. He argued that could in turn grow Amazon’s annual revenue by $24 billion.
Let’s assume Mahaney’s logic and projections are correct: one-day shipping would grow Prime memberships and spending at Amazon. The impact on the broader market could be significant in at least two ways: