Hotel Affiliate site tophotelsnearme.net is currently hijacking hotels Google My Business listings and replacing their official website URL with their own links. I was alerted to this by Craig Harkins and the #StopCrapOnTheMap hashtag that the Local SEO community uses to alert each other of local shenanigans.
https://t.co/olTRsh3NE6 is suggesting edits to hotel GMB listings to replace the official hotel site with their https://t.co/rUFcNcdLXi affiliate site.@bookingcom you should look at them. Probably not really providing you any value. @GoogleMyBiz #stopcraponthemap
— Craig Harkins (@CraigHarkins) 14 December 2018
This affiliate site uses “Suggest Edit” in Google Maps to suggest their own URL, a few more account then select the edit as correct and hey presto the edit is approved.
I have been looking though some of the hotels listed on their site and a large chunk are un-verified listings which makes it even easier because the listings owner is not alerted to pending edits.
Hijacked Verified Listings
They have even managed to hijack and change verified hotel business listings.
Verified listings should be more difficult as the owner account is notified of changes made and to accept or deny the edits. However suggested edits can still be brute forced through with multiple accounts saying the edit is correct.
This just shows how weak and susceptible the Google My Business ecosystem is. The sooner Google starts to trust businesses over users, the sooner some of these vulnerabilities will be closed. It is also a very timely reminder why business must claim and verify their Google Business listings and monitor them.
I have escalated this issue to the GMB team.