• http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    I think Mike Blumenthal makes a good point. Google is currently updating everything from an outdated dashboard. Perhaps the hackers/ hijackers took advantage of either the new or old dashboards? (Probably the new one.)

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    I love the immediate response of Google on the said issue. As more and more businesses trying to have a high rank in Google search, we must expect to have a lot of this kind of issue in the future.

  • http://lathesis.com/ Lathesis

    Mike Blumenthal it a good point and yes Google is so busy with updating but the immediate response from Google & cleaned up the problem

  • Corbin Haresnape

    Greg (and Danny),

    Quite a few of these hijackings were my properties so I wanted to leave a few thoughts. This is not unusual activity, especially in the affiliate space, it simply got press this time. This has been happening for quite some time, albeit at a smaller scale. I will even go as far as to say it is the same group of affiliates. RoomsToBook is affiliated with RoomWhiz(z) which was an offending affiliate less than 2 months ago.

    Blumenthal is right (as he almost always is) that bulk feeds were the weakness in this incident. They provide scalability but lack any type of listing or data protection that is present with individual verification. In addition I will add that verifying a listing is not all that difficult: 1. Abuse MapMaker to adjust phone number to a controlled number (with a matching region area code) 2. Verify the property 3. Plug in affiliate information.

    One final note I will add about bulk feeds. After the initial verification of the account (1 property with postcard or phone number) there is no restriction for the feed. Feed a competitor’s property bad information? Sure. Want to run affiliate links? Go for it. I have seen affiliates use this technique.

    I will avoid the Google-bash parade and instead say that bulk feeds are a “good” experience but if Google would offer a verified listing bulk option (with some rigorous initial verification) it would be a “better” experience.

    One final note, franchise businesses like protection, consistency, and value for time. G+ Local at a bulk scale is neither of those. Bing for Business/Facebook Local where you at?

    -Corbin

  • Scott Davis

    Verifying a listing doesn’t prevent it from being hijacked.

  • Corbin Haresnape

    Hey Scott,

    That is accurate. My concern is that a bulk feed provides no “protection” whatsoever, the larger point is scalable data security is what we need. Thanks!

  • Scott Davis

    I believe one of the major faults with Google’s Places & Maps system is the entire design around a unique phone number… They’ve taken a location based application and removed the location requirement from it. We’ve had OTA’s and competitors create and verify (don’t ask me how they verified… still trying to figure that one out) duplicate map listings with their own URL & phone number, yet the same name and address of our legitimate map listing.

    Designing a Location/Mapping interface and having location not be the distinguishing factor between listings was extremely poor design and has allowed this type of exploitation.

  • Steve King

    There’s a lot of things going on with the Google bulk tool – I’m not sure the hijackers would’ve been able to easily use it to claim all the listings.

    We’ve put up a recent post sketching out current issues with Google’s bulk tool and upgrades that seem to be coming soon. http://www.simpartners.com/google-bulk-limbod-listing-management-tool/

  • Scott Davis

    The offenders used an API to push the incorrect URLs on the map listings. (This was confirmed to me from a Google representative who will not be named for their own protection)