Nyagoslav Zhekov's avatar

Google Maps and spam. These two have been moving together ever since one of Google’s most prominent products started gaining unrivaled popularity in the area of searching for immediate, real world information online. A few weeks ago, in an attempt to bring awareness to the problem, I conducted an empirical experiment and proved that there was at least one way to relatively easily create and verify a fake business entry of any kind and with any name on Google Maps.


Later on, Bryan Seely, a Google Maps enthusiast, who was indirectly involved in the article (through his “work”) went on a sort of rampage against Google, discussing, and proving, a number of exploits in front of national media. One of those caught the attention of the Secret Service. As it has been proven in the past, the alarm should start ringing really loudly for Google to pay attention. Thus, as a result of this sequence of events, Google started quietly making a number of changes to their internal systems and processes related to Maps.


I asked Dan Austin, one of the most vocal critics of Google Maps, and one of [...]

Read the full post & comments

Darren Shaw's avatar

Whitespark was not affected by the Heartbleed bug

Posted Apr 10, 2014 by Darren Shaw in Whitespark

Just a quick note to let you know that Whitespark's website and software were unaffected by the Heartbleed bug. We have checked all of our servers and it turns out that we are not, and have not, used the offending implementation of OpenSSL. As a result, HeartBleed does not present a risk to our website or any of our tools.

While we were unaffected, a large percentage of sites on the web were. We recommend you update your passwords everywhere. There is no point updating before the affected site patches their system though, so use this tool to check first: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/

What's the Heartbleed bug?

Heartbleed is the codename for a bug in OpenSSL software that is used on a majority of web servers around the internet. Basically, hackers can exploit the bug to listen in on communications between your computer and websites that would normally be encrypted with SSL. This means they can read your usernames, passwords, and anything else you're transmitting. For more information, please see heartbleed.com

Read the full post & comments

Darren Shaw's avatar

Learn Next Level Digital Marketing at SearchLove Boston

Posted Mar 7, 2014 by Darren Shaw in Other

Reading through the schedule for SearchLove Boston, a theme emerges: Next Level Digital Marketing. It's common knowledge that SEO has evolved beyond on-page optimization and link building, but what exactly should digital marketers be focusing on today? What's next?

If you want the answer, there is no better place to find it than SearchLove Boston. The line up of speakers is incredible and the topics cover exactly what today's digital marketers need to know.

Just look at some of these "next level" topics:

Will Critchlow - The Golden Age of Digital Marketing Mark Johnstone - Lessons Learned from the Creative Industry Rand Fishkin - What Are Us SEOs Supposed to Sell Now?! Chris Savage - Building Audiences with Video Josh Braaten - How to Build a Data-Driven Company Sheena Medina - Community Building in a New Social Era Joanna Lord - The Loyalist Advantage: How to Measure and Increase Customer Loyalty Stephanie Chang - How Your Search Skills can be Effectively Applied to Other Areas of Marketing and from yours truly:Darren Shaw - How to Prioritize Your Local Search Work

Ok, my talk might not look so "next level" based on the title, but in a way, it is. The idea [...]

Read the full post & comments

Nyagoslav Zhekov's avatar

Google Maps: Still Too Easy to Spam

Posted Feb 19, 2014 by Nyagoslav Zhekov in Local SEO

Spammy SEO tactics are the bane of our existence. They are the bane of Google’s existence, too. Over the years, Google have been investing significant amount of money and man-power to fight system abuse related to Google Maps. While they are getting close to where they should be, Maps seems to need some more anti-spam work done. A few days ago, Mike Blumenthal shared (privately, hence no link) on Google+ an obviously fake Google Maps business listing. The listing could have been found here, but was removed a few days after Mike’s post, after numerous reports. Here is how the listing looked:

Fake Google Local Listing

The fact itself that the listing has been removed is positive. However, it took at least 8 reports, and more than 3 days for it to be taken down. It took one person - the spammer, 1-2 days to get it up and live. The fact itself that it is still possible to create such a listing is worrisome. I decided to investigate.



I tried to learn as much as possible about the spam tactic, so that I could reproduce it. Based [...]

Read the full post & comments

Nyagoslav Zhekov's avatar

Duplicate listings exist because of a few different issues with business data:

1. Different sets of business information for the same business float around the web (inconsistent NAP)

2. A business directory doesn't have good (and fast) enough technology and mechanisms to merge and de-duplicate business records with equal or near-equal information

3. An official database or a trusted data source provide duplicate/incorrect business records

4. Social activity created duplicates (user-generated content problems)

While issues #1, #2, and #3 can be overcome (for instance, by employing a manual clean-up process), issue #4 is a little trickier. Social activity (reviews, check-ins, likes, +1's, tweets, etc) is constant and its speed and velocity can hardly be predicted at the "individual business" level. And while duplicates occur on almost every major business directory, we see the biggest issues with duplicate listings on sites that have check-in functionality, a low quality internal search engine, and little to no moderation.

Yelp Check-in

Here is an example to make the matter a little clearer:

When a mobile user wants to make an online check-in, they would go to the app of their liking (Facebook, Foursquare, Yelp are currently three [...]

Read the full post & comments

older >>