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Online Maps Review Credibility: What do you see?

August 9, 2010 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: SEO 

Okay, let me start by saying right up front, I don’t know if this shows to you what I think it shows to me. And that is that when reviews are published online in Google Maps and are available to be seen by one and all, that they are actually “true”, credible and rightous. Or are they? You tell me…and here’s the points to ponder on this for all us Canuck SMBs, eh! And a big “tip-O-the-hat” to Miriam for the finding and blogging on this late last week that got me thinking about our canuck google maps and what I’d find too, eh!

First, go to  and use “Leggat Pontiac Buick” as a search term…to open up a link to a local GM car dealership website, located a few miles away from where I live and one that yes, I’ve used for service to my own car in the past. Always had pretty good service and pricing too, I believe….but that’s for another blog posting.

Of course, you will need to be using the ‘un-logged’ in google settings to get the same default serp results that others get, ie you need to turn off your own settings for this….and once you have clicked, then you will see the same report that I do as shown here below….

Notice like I did, that the top shown reviews are all 5 star reviews. All these reviewers had great things to say about their experiences at Leggats and they were willing to say so right out loud and to the whole world. That’s the real strength of reviews and yes, this is how Google Maps should be showing their credibility to the world for all the SMBs who create their sites and manage same.

Course, the issue as I see it is that anyone can “check” on those reviews to a degree that in my opinion, can make one wonder as to the veracity of the reviews. How do you do that?

Well, look at the very first listed 5 star review. Note that it was posted by someone called beatrix.meisner, on July 20th this year, and that she found the deal she got at Leggats to be a great one for the service she got. That’s fine. That’s what reviews are for and I would congratulate Leggats on providing this kind of top notch service to a customer…or, should I? And why do I say that? Ahh…here’s the rub….

Click the name of the reviewer….beatrix.meisner…and you’re taken deeper into the index to see what other reviews have been done by that person. Do this.  Please….here’s a screenshot of what I see…

Do you see what I see as the page of 5 reviews posted by this person? Do you note like I do that this person must be a world traveller as they’ve posted reviews on a website company in Scottsdale, Arizona; a bankruptcy company in Los Vegas, Nevada (how can you lease a car at Leggats when you’re looking at bankruptcy is another question, eh); a “local” kitchen reno firm in Kitchener; the Leggats review and lastly, a hot tub firm in Manitoba where they’re booking their install. All reviews were 5 stars. All were made about a week or so apart. And all were glowing reviews.

Hmmm….does that “ring true” to you? I have my own suspicions, but I invite you to post your own comments here….what do you think?

And further, try clicking on a local car dealership in your own community, and then drill down further to check the reviewers own listings….what did you find? Is this a narrow “auto dealership” issue only or is it widerspread than that? What did you find in your own community is likely to be represented cross-Canada wide, I’d think…but I await your own comments here below, eh?


Thought that I’d also check say on other car dealerships in our local area, to see if this kind of  “review” was being posted by others with the same criteria – 5 stars and all on the same day or a couple of days apart…and YUP, there’s a ton of them, eh! Here’s a couple more to go and look at to see if you think what I think about the validity of such reviews — remember to click on the NAME of the reviewer and then you decide….are this true Reviews – or NOT? 

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12 Responses to “Online Maps Review Credibility: What do you see?”
  1. Nice observation. I believe Google will police these reviews at some point. These review “spammers” are obviously diminishing the credibility of Google Places. Other review sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor have higher levels of filters and controls in place. I would imagine Google would adopt similar policies. Then again, they haven’t been able or willing to prevent the hijacking of local listings or SPAM to a large degree, so maybe the spammers will have a nice long run. Either way, the practice will be penalized at some point IMHO.

  2. Jim says:


    all I’d ask is that you do a similar search in your own locale for say car dealerships, lawyers, accountants…and then report back here with the results.

    I’ve been banging away at same for Toronto based similar sites and they are HEAVILY infected with what can only surmise is “phony-review-itis!”

    Google, you listening lads? This needs an algo change….IMHO!



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  4. Jim says:

    Updates for our Google Maps Review Veracity posting:

    Looks like this is cross-branded and more than prevalent, eh!



  5. I’m a bit confused when it comes to Reviews as well. I know that reviews influence SEO Place rankings, but where they come from and how they get applied confuses me. I recently saw a review of a jewelry store being applied to a travel agency.

  6. This is why I seldom give any attention to reviews. It is far too easy to fake them and it is hard to determine the real ones. The way I look at it is that I have personally never given a review of a car dealership, or other businesses for that matter. They are largely induced by the company, if not paid for.

  7. MiriamEllis says:

    Hey Jim!
    Thank you for the hat tip, and I am really, really glad to see you covering this. The more I look, the more of this kind of spam I am seeing in multiple industries. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. On the surface, it seems to me like it would be really easy for Google to create an if-then algorithmic flag that would go something like:

    If more than 5 reviews placed in 3 days or less in cities distanced more than 300 miles apart, then flag.

    I think this would get rid of a lot of the spam until the spammers started reconfiguring their workload so that each profile is more carefully set up to review businesses within a 300 mile radius.

    However, the one stumbling block is that people do go on vacations – sometimes big road trips, and they might come home and sit down one evening and review numerous places they visited. I know I’ve gone on trips and done exactly this. So this is a flaw in my if-then command.

    Thus, what I’m seeing this pointing to is a much more sophisticated set of flags that recognizes that someone having a hot tub installed in Manitoba is unlikely to also be buying 3 used cars in different parts of the United States. Not impossible, but rather unlikely.

    Can an algorithm handle this? Not any that I can imagine. So, we are back to square one needing human oversight and arbitrage in Maps to handle this and a host of other problems, eh?

    Really glad to see others drawing attention to this situation which is doing so much to destroy the value of reviews.

    P.S. I’ve got to add you to my feedreader

  8. john says:

    I’ve also seen some SMB’s hire a researcher to analyze the reviews of their competitors and post a bad review if the researcher deemed that the competitor’s reviews are fake.

    I’m happy right now because it seems that Google is making some progress in processing these reviews. I see some reviews that was removed from the maps.


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  1. says:

    Online Maps Review Credibility: What do you see?…

    Okay, let me start by saying right up front, I don’t know if this shows to you what I think it shows to me. And that is that when reviews are published online in Google Maps and are available to be seen by one and all, that they are actually “true”, cr…

  2. says:

    Online Maps Review Credibility: What do you see?…

    Okay, let me start by saying right up front, I don’t know if this shows to you what I think it shows to me. And that is that when reviews are published online in Google Maps and are available to be seen by one and all, that they are actually “true”, cr…

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