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Google Map Pin Exploit Leads to Massive Drops in Local Rankings

June 27, 2024 /
All industries  /   Algorithm Updates 

What once appeared to be a potential bug in Google Maps’ pin placement has been revealed to be malicious attacks against local businesses. The issue that listing managers saw was their pin placements not only being highly inaccurate but also placed in areas crowded with dozens of other inaccurately placed businesses. While this error had the signs of being a glitch on Google’s end, it is now clear that an editing exploit is allowing bad actors to misrepresent competing businesses and steal leads.

The method that spammers use to hijack the locations of local businesses is through publicly accessible suggested edits on Google Maps. All the bad actor needs to do is search for a business in a specific area, suggest an edit, drag the pin wherever they want, and repeat the process with several accounts until Google updates to the false pin placement.


This issue has existed for several months and was thought to be an annoying but low-priority glitch. Now that the issue is seen as an obvious exploit and not a difficult debug, calls have been made to remedy the problem immediately.

The reason that spammers are falsifying pin placements is to ruin the rankings of competing businesses. In the example below, you can see a business moved from the Local Three Pack all the way down to double-digit rankings. A drop like that will see any business lose a substantive amount of business, and the spammer’s listings remain to take the top spots.

Affected businesses have tried to rectify the situation through manual correction, but that already tedious process is suffering even worse consequences. As the bots and spammers are editing targeted businesses en masse, Google believes this false majority more than the business owners themselves. This means that the single edit by the business owner is being seen as the spam and the spam as the legitimate information. Those who try to move their pins back to the correct location are being hit with suspensions, giving the bad actors an even easier time in abusing their marks.

Until Google patches out this exploit, all that business owners can do is either try to manually override while hoping not to get suspended or rely on a listings management provider.

If your business is affected by this latest exploit or you wish to have the peace of mind that you won’t be in the future, get in touch.