Tim Colling

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Vicinity Update & GBP Name Spam: What Was the Real Impact? - BrightLocal

In the above article, the author makes these interesting observations, towards the end of the article:

As you can see in the chart above, GBP names that were both without keywords and less than 20 characters in length showed a steady increase in rankings.

Interestingly, however, GBP names that included spammy keywords and ranged between 21 and 30 characters in length actually showed the biggest increase in rankings, moving an average of 16 places up in search rankings.

On the flipside, spam-filled GBP names more than 30 characters in length were the hardest hit in terms of search rankings, moving down an average of 25.2 places. So, what does this all mean?

That's very interesting, especially the point that I emphasized with bold, underlined, and italicized font in the second paragraph.

What does everyone think about that?

One other point: if your actual company name is fairly long (e.g., "Above & Beyond Home Health Care and Hospice Care"), it sounds like Google will punish you with lower rankings, simply because Google algorithms "think" that your name should be shorter. Really? Ugh.
 

Professor M

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Bright Local normally perform good studies but I believe this is not the case in this study, unfortunately.

It fails short in 2 ways:

- they only show the average movement, but we would like to know what was the average position after the update
- the biggest impact was proximity so they should look at close proximity to the location, for example, what was the ranking before and after within a mile of the location

I did some testing to present to members of my program, and the business name with keywords still helps but only against other competitors closer to the location and not as wider as before.

I don't think Google dialed down much the business name, rather dialed up proximity a lot.

I am against keyword spamming or other black/grey tactics but studies need to be conducted more rigorously, the methodology needs to be better explained and all results should be shown.
 

JoyHawkins

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business name with keywords still helps but only against other competitors closer to the location and not as wider as before.

I don't think Google dialed down much the business name, rather dialed up proximity a lot

I agree 100%. I think the data in this article is really useful but I don't agree with most of the takeaways or to-do items. I don't think businesses that are keyword stuffing are being "punished" but I do think that the unfair advantage that keyword stuffing used to have has been decreased quite a bit because of proximity being dialed up. When something gets dialed up, something else inevitably gets dialed down.

We tested the impact of removing keywords from a business name and the net result was negative. We're going to be presenting our findings at our next event.
 

Rob

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We tested the impact of removing keywords from a business name and the net result was negative. We're going to be presenting our findings at our next event.

I'll be interested to see that as a listing I manage was heavily hit by the update and I was thinking of testing a name change. The owner, however, was completely against removing 'heating and cooling' from the business name. While it is part of his registered business name I just wanted to see if it moved the rankings to check if that was the issue. I'm still trying to figure out how to get the needle to move back up after this change.
 

JS Girard

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My take so far is that Google seems to be able to tell when the criterion is and is not useful, and most of the time it's not useful. It's easy to spot where this penalty might be playing in because the top-10 will be overwhelmingly dominated with short names. I've seen it mostly in the electrician and plumbing vertical so far.

We ran some tests and it did seem to make a some difference here and there, but never enough to counteract other factors and slip into the three-pack (e.g. not enough to push a young GBP with few reviews, or a GBP with poor, marginal location within the city). In verticals where everyone massively abuses keyword stuffing (and keyword stuffings remains VERY efficient in French!) and there is spam galore, though, taking out keywords makes no difference.
 

Brian Barwig

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Seems to me like the Vicinity update is rolling back a bit. Some of my clients which were negatively impacted are coming back into the Pack in a big way. Noticed a change in the last week or so. I've been doing some onsite optimizations but nothing that should've drastically changed the SERP as it has.

Some of the competitors I monitor also took a hit. That combined with my client increases leads me to believe there was another update or Vicinity is being rolled back a bit.
 

JS Girard

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I've been wondering whether Google might try to detect Keyword stuffing in different ways than the one evaluated in BrightLocal's study. Character length is a possibility, but another criterion that should've been examined is the number of words in the name (which is easily counted by counting the number of spaces) in relation with keywords density (especially since Google is very good at discarding meaningless words in organic searches). A short, but keyword-dense name is less likely to be spammy than a name with 15 words in it!
 

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