JoyHawkins

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So far in looking at the big picture, it appears to have done a ton of good. Like any automated process, it definitely has it's downsides. However, I am seeing it filter out tons of historic spammers and companies that create tons of listings for the same business. Just because you're filtered for a specific search term, doesn't mean you're screwed. You most like still rank for tons of other queries and if you want to rank for the one you got filtered on, it is now up to you to figure out who got you filtered and how you can beat them. In the end there is only 3 spots so I am not surprised to see things continue to get harder and more challenging for us. I expect it will continue.
 

JoshuaMackens

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So far in looking at the big picture, it appears to have done a ton of good. Like any automated process, it definitely has it's downsides. However, I am seeing it filter out tons of historic spammers and companies that create tons of listings for the same business. Just because you're filtered for a specific search term, doesn't mean you're screwed. You most like still rank for tons of other queries and if you want to rank for the one you got filtered on, it is now up to you to figure out who got you filtered and how you can beat them. In the end there is only 3 spots so I am not surprised to see things continue to get harder and more challenging for us. I expect it will continue.

Respectfully, I'm not sure I quite agree.

I might could agree that in terms of spam filtering, maybe it has done a good job, but I don't deal with a lot of spam so I couldn't quite give an educated opinion on that. But honestly, in the big picture, I would have to disagree and say that if local businesses are getting caught in the spam cross hairs here, then the bad has far outweighed the good. And I don't even have any clients filtered by the change myself.

First, let's take local businesses. Apparently, innocent local businesses are getting filtered out of search results just because they're in the same location as someone else in their competitive space, correct? If so, how can that be labeled anything other than extremely unfair? They're getting filtered out not because they're spammy, not because they've stuffed their business name with keywords, not because they've violated Google's TOS somewhere, but because of the geographical decision they made in where they signed their lease? I'm not sure there's an adequate or logical defense for that.

Second, let's look at search quality. Is a local business really more deserving just because they can afford to pay a Local SEO thousands of dollars a month so they can be the more prominent business in their building? Of course not. So Google is filtering out genuine local businesses with potentially great service, product, and quality just because of an unfortunate coincidence. This does not give variety and is not quality and the searcher suffers.

Third, if you look at spam, then yeah, maybe it's been a good update. Again, I can't speak to that. Maybe it's been able to trap a lot of spammers. But it's also trapped, what seems like, a ton of other great local businesses along with it.

I guess it just depends on where you side in the age old adage of "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer".

It also strikes me as extremely lazy on Google's part if this is the way they are choosing to fight spam. There are much more clued in individuals than I on Google's problems with spam. Also, I'll be the first to admit I don't have a solution to the spam myself. But when an update like this catches innocent local businesses in the crossfire...I don't know, it just doesn't seem right.

Again, I have zero businesses affected by this so I have zero experience with this update and may be speaking way out of turn, I grant you that. But if the many reports here that I've read are still accurate, again, it strikes extremely unfair.

Maybe they can turn the dial down where spammers are still being caught but legitimate local businesses are able to run free. That would be great. But until then, it just doesn't seem like a win.
 

JoyHawkins

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Here is a related article. I completely agree with Adam's findings. At the end of the day, I don't necessarily think Google cares as much about the 3-pack as we do. You are right about some great businesses possibly being filtered, but it's because there isn't enough space to list them all anyway! Also we need to keep in mind that what also changes with this update was the location of the searcher. So these businesses might be filtered if the search is done in the middle of the city, as what happens with our ranking tracker. However, they most likely show up just fine if you change the searcher's location to a different neighborhood. I think people are far less screwed than we might initially think. Also, I see tons of cases where they are filtered for one thing and not another. So it's not like Google has penalized them. http://searchengineland.com/dont-let-business-play-possum-local-search-259825
 

JoshuaMackens

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Here is a related article. I completely agree with Adam's findings. At the end of the day, I don't necessarily think Google cares as much about the 3-pack as we do. You are right about some great businesses possibly being filtered, but it's because there isn't enough space to list them all anyway! Also we need to keep in mind that what also changes with this update was the location of the searcher. So these businesses might be filtered if the search is done in the middle of the city, as what happens with our ranking tracker. However, they most likely show up just fine if you change the searcher's location to a different neighborhood. I think people are far less screwed than we might initially think. Also, I see tons of cases where they are filtered for one thing and not another. So it's not like Google has penalized them. Don't let your business play possum with local search

On the 3-pack, while it's nice to rank there, ever since it switched from the 7 pack we really just want to be seen in the next few listings when people click "More Places". With 3 spots, and an ad on the way that reduces that to 2 spots, being in the 3 pack just isn't always viable for everyone, although we still shot for it. But now, even being in "More Places" is in jeopardy depending on if your listing is filtered or not. Sure, the consumer could move the map and jog the filtered listing but that's got to be extremely unlikely.

Without comprehensive data, I suppose it's hard to be conclusive.

I'm still not too excited about the update considering that even in the article you linked Adam mentions that Greek restaurants right next to each other may get filtered out unless the searcher is close them. I think that's a real shame.

Sure, for us agencies that's not a huge deal as it's our job to beat this. I'm thinking more of local businesses that were doing somewhat well on their own and now their phone has completely stopped ringing.
 

David Faltz

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I totally agree with your assessment Joshua. I agree there is spam, but I was not seeing it with multiple listings for the same business really anyways. I was and I am still seeing spam listings appear, but just the one true verified listing, which to me is where the real problem with spam exists anyways.

Now not only do you need to be in the top 3 to be appear, but you need need to be #1 if your in a similar business in a similar location to appear at all in more places, even with different NAP and URL. It just seems illogical to me. Sure there may be slightly varied positions for different keywords, but again someone is still getting filtered unfairly.

There has to be a better way then this. I also fill that this has the propensity to increase spam to create a slight edge, not decrease it.
 

David Faltz

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Interesting article Joy, and I hear what you are saying.

However, if the intent of the user was to find Greek restaurants on the north or south suburbs specifically, then most likely the user would search in that suburb / neighborhood specifically, use near me, or comb through the results for locations closer to them in the broader Chicago search.

However, now they will not have all the available choices open to them, because some are being filtered due to their address. Also, wouldn't business get filtered in even in hyperlocal search if they were in the same location? I mean the filter is still going to filter or does it not exist in smaller neighborhoods?
 

JoyHawkins

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The filter is different for every single search query, so you can easily show up for one and not others. I tried a few "near me" searches and I don't think the filter is nearly as strong as it is for the terms we track with city-names in them.
 

Rich Owings

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Not sure I agree. What I'm seeing is greater diversity of results, depending upon how the query is structured...keyword, keyword + city, keyword + city + state, city + keyword, city + state + keyword, are all returning different results. I have a client who is finally in the map pack for one of those queries, and it's making a big difference to them.
 

JoyHawkins

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Not sure I agree. What I'm seeing is greater diversity of results, depending upon how the query is structured...keyword, keyword + city, keyword + city + state, city + keyword, city + state + keyword, are all returning different results. I have a client who is finally in the map pack for one of those queries, and it's making a big difference to them.
Rich,

Yes, I am seeing that too. Part of why I am not overly concerned if they are filtered for one - it doesn't mean they are filtered for all :)
 

David Faltz

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Not sure I agree. What I'm seeing is greater diversity of results, depending upon how the query is structured...keyword, keyword + city, keyword + city + state, city + keyword, city + state + keyword, are all returning different results. I have a client who is finally in the map pack for one of those queries, and it's making a big difference to them.


Honestly I saw that diversity prior to the update. Also not all search queries are created equal. I love the diversity, just do not feel it should be at the expense of businesses getting filtered due to the business location being similar to someone else in a similar profession.

The filter affects more then just not appearing in the pack. The business does not appear at all when it gets filtered for that query. It is like it does not exist.

Also, if you are appearing in the pack for a query, you should still appear in the pack without the filter. The filter removes the others that rank behind you at similar location in a similar profession, not those in front of you. If you rank #1 at that location for your vertical, then you would still rank #1. Am I missing something?
 

JoyHawkins

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The filter removes the others that rank behind you at similar location in a similar profession, not those in front of you. If you rank #1 at that location for your vertical, then you would still rank #1. Am I missing something?

David,

I thought this initially but have since seen tons of examples where the listing that got filtered actually had a higher ranking than the one that replaced it. I have a really good example that I will be diving into for my presentation at LocalU in a couple weeks.
 

David Faltz

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David,

I thought this initially but have since seen tons of examples where the listing that got filtered actually had a higher ranking than the one that replaced it. I have a really good example that I will be diving into for my presentation at LocalU in a couple weeks.

Thanks Joy,

Interesting. I look forward to hearing more. Still think they could accomplish this without removing the others completely from the particular search query, but what do I know :)
 

Tony Wang

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David,

I thought this initially but have since seen tons of examples where the listing that got filtered actually had a higher ranking than the one that replaced it. I have a really good example that I will be diving into for my presentation at LocalU in a couple weeks.

Joy, what do you mean by higher ranking? If 2 similar lawyers are in the same building, and now only one of them shows in the local pack, isn't the one that shows "higher ranking", by definition?
 

JoyHawkins

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Joy, what do you mean by higher ranking? If 2 similar lawyers are in the same building, and now only one of them shows in the local pack, isn't the one that shows "higher ranking", by definition?
So, for example, a client of mine had 2 listings. One was amazingly rich with tons of reviews, photos, editorial description etc. Another was a blank old non-verified listing with a different address (very close by), phone # and website that was dead (404 error).

When the good one showed, it was always top 3. When it didn't and the other showed, it was like 6th-8th. Before the update the better one always showed but after it seemed to rotate a bit. They never showed at the same time.

We ended up fixing it by having the old one marked as moved since that part of his company didn't even exist anymore. He wasn't even aware that a listing for it existed.
 

Tony Wang

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Wow, that's pretty messed up. But isn't that a clear indication that this update is so wrong?

Your example may be extreme (not sure, I haven't seen anything like that), but I have to agree with David and Joshua, filtering businesses purely based on same niche/same building makes no sense.

Sure, reducing spam is what we all want, but I think it's a case of over-correcting, or hitting a fly with a baseball bat (though not a Ranger's bat, a big one like the Blue Jay's :( , I'm in Dallas). I have to believe that big G will figure it out and fix it, just would've been nice if they had figured it out before release.
 

JoyHawkins

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For most cases, I'm seeing it as a sign that older listings are more trusted. I think it's also a sign that some of the external factors that everyone sees aren't really the main driver of ranking. I think it's continuing to get more complicated and not as easy as adding a few photos, categories, inside tour etc.

Maybe Google will tweak it, who knows. I'm just not betting on that. I have yet to run across a case that isn't solvable with enough work. If people are looking for an instant fix, they should know that hasn't existed for a long time in the world of SEO :)
 

David Faltz

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So, for example, a client of mine had 2 listings. One was amazingly rich with tons of reviews, photos, editorial description etc. Another was a blank old non-verified listing with a different address (very close by), phone # and website that was dead (404 error).

When the good one showed, it was always top 3. When it didn't and the other showed, it was like 6th-8th. Before the update the better one always showed but after it seemed to rotate a bit. They never showed at the same time.

We ended up fixing it by having the old one marked as moved since that part of his company didn't even exist anymore. He wasn't even aware that a listing for it existed.

I have seen something similar with one of my clients. Not exactly the same, but I was able to control the variables on it. It is quite different when it is different businesses in the same location and vertical that are competing for the one available spot for that location.
 

David Faltz

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For most cases, I'm seeing it as a sign that older listings are more trusted. I think it's also a sign that some of the external factors that everyone sees aren't really the main driver of ranking. I think it's continuing to get more complicated and not as easy as adding a few photos, categories, inside tour etc.

Maybe Google will tweak it, who knows. I'm just not betting on that. I have yet to run across a case that isn't solvable with enough work. If people are looking for an instant fix, they should know that hasn't existed for a long time in the world of SEO :)

I could not agree more with the assessment that external factors that we thought were the driving force are no longer as important as the once were, including the power of the actual domain. I also do agree that age of the listing is and has always been a powerful asset.

However, I am not in the camp that it is necessary solvable with enough work. Many of us have dotted our I's and crossed our T's at this point, as have many of our clients" competitors. Citations are having less of impact then ever before, etc. It is easier to rank organically then it is to rank in the 3 pack, which I am OK with, but getting completely filtered out just seems like a poor user experience.
 

Alan Myers

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I have a situation where a business disappeared from the map search result, but there is not another similar business at the same address. As with the others, when I zoom in on the map, the business appears in the map search results.

The business is Banff Inn, a hotel in Banff Alberta, and the other business at the same address is Carlito's Pizza. Banff Inn disappeared from the map search results in September, but it's not like Carlito's Pizza is appearing in its place.

Banff Inn does not have a duplicate listing in Google Maps or Google Map Maker. Has you encountered anything like this since September?
 

JoyHawkins

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Alan,

Are there other hotels right beside it? I know often there will be like 4 hotels together on a corner or street in a row. And yes, unfortunately I have seen several cases where the filter is filtering out all but 2.
 

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