I think we would all agree that Google Maps is one of Google’s best and most successful services. While it has in recent times it has started to become a little bloated with new features, these actually don’t get in the way of the standard day to day use of the services.
What some of you may not be aware of is that a lot of the information in Maps is ‘crowdsourced’, the latest iteration of which is the Local Guides program. However, like all good things on the internet, there’s always a small group who misuse the open nature of services to either game the system or just to malicious mess things up for everyone else.
On Google Maps this results in legitimate maps locations being either changed to redirect to somewhere else or Maps Hijacking, e.g. click on the URL or phone number for a local Chinese takeaway and get their competition down the road. Yes it happens, and I’ve personally fixed dozens of these hijacks. Otherwise, people just mess with the details because they’re horrible people.
Doing something like this the lols makes you a horrible person, okay?
Up until now, it’s been very difficult for legitimate owners of these business or local guides to report this behavior. Google has acknowledged the scale of this issue and has now provided a legitimate tool for reporting this exact type of Maps interference.
The snappily named “Business Redressal Complaint Form” provides users with an easy way to notify Google about the issue and perhaps get some assistance in fixing and preventing future changes. Unfortunately, this new functionality isn’t built into Maps, or even the Google My Business app, but it’s better than nothing.
If you are a business owner and you haven’t taken control of your Google Maps listing and installed the Google My Business app you should seriously consider doing so, both are free and give you greater control of your business profile in Google products.
In the meantime, if you spot malicious hijacks to Google Maps listings, do the right thing and report it: