More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Have been getting some reports of one-box rankings that should not be ranking at all and are knocking everyone else in that market out of the 7 pack.

These bogus one-boxes that are popping up all over are SUPER SPAMMY and violation-filled.
Most have broken sites or 404 errors and have fake names and bogus locations.
Should not even be in the pack, much less awarded a one-box!
But they are locking out all the honest businesses in these markets.
Maybe spam pays after all???

I think there was a bad update that needs to be rolled back.

The 1st report I got was from a plumbing company I know who is always in the A spot.

EXAMPLE #1: The listing that knocked them out and stole the one-box is like this:
Name in Place page: Plumbers City (not real name, so major violation)
Categories include city plumber (violation #2)
Keyword + city stuffed description, looks like written by a low end 3rd world spammy SEO
Address showing (violation #3)
Located at a Regus office (possible violation)
No website listed.
(EDITED TO ADD) Just called the phone # and it's a Doctor's phone #???
(Ya this plumber listing is really is relevant and deserves a one-box!)

Duplicate claimed listing at same phone and address. (violation #4 or 5. Plus normally a dupe would knock it out of the ranking). This one is a different name, still not the real business name and the site link goes to a plumber directory or maybe rent a site model.

So I checked a couple other cities and have found some other undeserving one-boxes.

(NOTE: Often you need to change location to see these. Sometimes you need to change browsers.)

EXAMPLE #2: Google search: Plumbers San Diego and you'll see this listing got a ONE-BOX and knocks everyone else out of the ranking. Fake name, geo stuffed categories, address visible, city repeated 3 times in description.

Called. Phone is out of service. In MM record goes to a painting company?
So again why does this listing deserve a one-box and how is it relevant if you can't even call them?


EXAMPLE #3: Google search: plumbers denver This one-box is not spammy. It's not even claimed. BUT name is Water System Inc, domain is rampartsupply DOT com. So that's a little odd. Usually the one-box is awarded to exact match names/domains. But what's especially off is this is not even a plumbing company I don't think. I mean if you are looking for someone to come fix your toilet, I don't think that's what these guys do. It says they do wholesale plumbing supplies. So they sell to plumbers but I think consumers that call for help with on-site plumbing problems will literally be SOL. :p

I've seen a couple other complaints but have not gotten the domains or KWs to do any checking yet.

Seems like there was an algo update or something changed. My Dentist that I got double #1s for dropped from A to G in the pack. BUT I have not worked with him for over 8 months so don't know if maybe his developer or someone changed something. There are things on his listing I would never have done and recommended against, but his developer went against my advice and did them anyway, so maybe he got dinged for them, not sure.

Just wondered if you guys were seeing anything odd out there. Seems like there was an algo update or something. I know in the organic world there was a lot of chatter about a possible algo update on the 21st.

EXAMPLE #4: Google search: dentists denver

Another fake name claimed the one-box.
Domain is DEAD! (GoDaddy parking page - highly relevant!)
One reviewer said this might a locksmith not even a dentist.
Street view looks like a warehouse. Can't imagine a Dental office there.

This listing knocks out every other Denver Dentist.
This one deserves to get a one-box, as the most relevant Dentist listing in all of Denver???

Edited to add: Checking phone. After hours. Keep getting busy signal. That's one someone wrote in a review too. Always busy.

Edited to add: Checked MM and someone marked it as spam and edit pending to remove it.
I woke up yesterday and I have about 4 keywords ranking in 1 BOX

3 as of right now

might just be a glitch but this has happened to me a few times. Lasts about 3 days
It is very possible that Google are tweaking something in their local algorithm. Some time ago, when they were again tweaking around how and when to display branded one-box, there were a number of extremely competitive queries that displayed one-boxes, and they were mostly for businesses such as the ones you quote, Linda - spammy, with violations, fake keyword-stuffed business names. Hopefully Google will resolve this soon.
The top plumber I mentioned resolved and it's now back to a 7 pack. The rest are still all one-boxes.
This has been a recurring issue and a recurring problem since at least late 2006. Mike Blumenthal addressed it here with an example that many years ago.

In Autumn 2009 it was addressed in the Google Places Forum but issues remained.

Historically a business has and would make its formal name something like City/service: ie Tulsa Orthodontist and would amass signals for the official name. Situations like that could result in a onebox, but with google's various algo changes over time other influences could also create it.

Currently there could be other algo changes that are causing a high frequency of oneboxes. They could be local signals and they could be organic signals.

IMHO both types of signals have at various times caused oneboxes.

Also historically if enough smb's are on the wrong side of oneboxes they should complain. Google seems to react after enough complaints.

:D If you are on the right side of a onebox I'd keep my mouth shut for the time being. If you are on the wrong side of a onebox I'd complain!!!!! ;)

It has seemed to be a recurring issue that at various times gets better or worse.

Basically if you think of all the geo oriented searches that are of either type: city/service or service/city there is overwhelming evidence that the enormous volume of such queries should never generate these types of results.....but google's algo's keep generating them off and on.

(parenthetically I've had smb's that have been on both sides of oneboxes. When you get them they are great!!!!! Traffic multiplies. When you are on the wrong side of them life is miserable. Traffic moves elsewhere)
Thanks Dave!

Ya I sometimes see regular EMD, or just strong signal listings reign supreme with a one-box, but never saw this many spammy ones with violations that would normally cause deletion, suspension or rank penalties.

I just reported that top plumber listing that I didn't link to, via report a problem, even though the 7 pack is back and they aren't in it, just cuz it's filled with violations and should not even be live. Will track and see how long it takes before they are pulled down.
Found one that is simply terrible (btw reported it.... sort of a "NASA we have a problem" type of thing...or someone or ones have found a way to mess with local these days!!!!)

spammy onebox.jpg

Thanks Dave. Yep. That's another one. That one also has NO SITE - just a parked domain. And no geo stuffed cats. So not sure other than the fake KW stuffed name why Google would think it's relevant enough to lock everyone else out. (If others want to replicate, need to have location set for Baltimore to see this one.)

Oh and by the way the REAL name is "Honest Abe Plumbing"!

I'm almost wondering if one of the big spammy local SEO companies found a loophole to create one-boxes or if it's just a temp glitch with the algo.
I just reported that top plumber listing that I didn't link to, via report a problem, even though the 7 pack is back and they aren't in it, just cuz it's filled with violations and should not even be live. Will track and see how long it takes before they are pulled down.

Actually the 7 pack is only showing up for me in Chrome now.
In IE and FF the spammy one-box is back again, locking everyone else out!
Frustrating but also funny in a sad way.

I always hate irrelevant or poor quality info hitting the first page. It just makes me shake my head in disbelief.

On the other hand, it is so helpful to be able to report or get it corrected faster as compared to the past!
More on the Baltimore plumber spammy onebox

The url is a parked url with a domain host. Its not live. That is the one that has the spammy onebox

Meanwhile there is a live honestabeplumbing web site.

Looks like two different websites for the same business. One has lots of signals in citations and is generating the spammy result.

I'm just skimming through the details so far.

It appears though this is a spammed effort to beat maps....and right now google local + is falling for it.
FYI I reported this to Google earlier today.

Here's another one. Was not even trying to find more. Was researching something totally different.

These things are becoming a pain! This one has similar characteristics to others above which again makes me suspect one of the big shady local SEO agencies found a way to game the system.

Google: Philadelphia dentist
One-box listing is:

KW city fake name, funky description, geo stuffed cats. Once again the site does not even resolve, so how can this listing deserve a one-box?

I called and it's a Google voice # that does not sound like a Dentist office at all.

And look at the location on street view. Like Dentist Denver in post #2 above, looks like a warehouse or something, not like a Dental office. I smell a big fat scam!
Sheesh, everywhere I look!

dentists chicago CAREFUL, don't click that website. It tried to download something on my PC.

This one:
Same as others in that it's a fake City KW name. And geo stuffed cats. No MM history.

But it appears there is really a practice there in street view it's a really low end Dental practice. And there are several listings with a couple different practice names.
hey Linda: If you happen to know any TC's over at the google places forum, get a hold of them and have them contact google.

There is murky business afloat...and somebody needs to contact those folks with the very vulnerable algo's.

Another one reported at the Google forum today.

phoenix dui lawyer
phoenix dui lawyers
phoenix dui attorney
phoenix dui attorneys
hey Linda: If you happen to know any TC's over at the google places forum, get a hold of them and have them contact google.

There is murky business afloat...and somebody needs to contact those folks with the very vulnerable algo's.


Ya I contacted this TC named Linda and she reported this thread w/ examples to Google this morning. :)
(I waited a couple days in case it was just a temporary glitch.)
Welcome Derek and thanks for sharing.

In investigating your example, it's a little different and here are some things I found.

Google: knoxville dentist

#1 its a real listing for a real practice unlike a couple others above.

It's an unclaimed, scraped dupe.

Here are all the listings:
1 Dr. name, claimed
1 Knoxville Dentist - Dr Name claimed. (So dupe PLUS KW stuffed)
1 Knoxville Dentist, unclaimed, the one that stole the one box.

So in this case, since unclaimed, no geo stuffed cats. So it's really just the EMD name and domain that appears to be triggering the one-box.

Noticed something interesting though. Google the name on that scraped unclaimed listing + phone in quotes: "Knoxville Dentist" "(865) 584-8630"

Appears the good Dr had some citation building done with that fake EM name. It's listed on Manta, City Search and other high authority sites, so that's why Google scraped it and created a listing.
Found more or less the same with regard to the honestabe plumber site in

First there is an Exact match domain that is a domain parked with a host.

honest abe plumbing does have a domain that is active. but its the site that has all the citations.

Meanwhile the parked domain w/ the exact match domain has citations and reviews.

do a power search with " parentheses" around the phone number and address for that parked domain and bingo. There are a reasonable amt of citations spread across the web.

This has clearly spread across the web. Its an ugly twist on the old locksmith problem.

BTW: What I have found is that regardless of status, google's pac doesn't seem to care about parked domains or not.

I've seen a number of pacs with businesses that folded. The PAC will still have the old domain showing regardless of the fact that it is a closed business.

Neither the PAC nor eliminates closed businesses.

Those parked domains usually have adsense on them.

....and don't you know it. Google is making money by keeping the parked domains in the PAC. Searchers click on the parked domains. Then they click on google's ads, carried on the parked domains.

So google isn't cleaning out the PACs...and in doing so it makes a little extra money giving searchers bad information.

tsk tsk tsk.

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