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I think this update is similar to the one-box update on a couple levels. Remember that? I complained about it for months last year and so did Mike.
Attack of the Bad Google Local One-Boxes!
It was digging up all these old crusty spammy listings or bogus or out of business listings that had previously been buried.
But the type of listings is not the only similarity.
I believe (don't know for a fact but am pretty sure) that both of those algos are controlled but the organic search team. They are trying to deliver the best "universal" search results and don't specialize in local.
Maybe the regular search algos are not trained to pick up on local violations. OR trained to check to see if locations are real or phone numbers still work.
Maybe they are just trained to pick up other signals like keyword in domain, age of domain or backlinks or whatever. So they are ranking on whatever those organic signals are and not taking into account all the local stuff like the rules, legit locations, etc.
Now all that is just my gut feeling, but I feel pretty strongly that it's at least something along those lines that's at play here.
Does that make sense?
One odd thing I've been noticing is that a lot of job listings pop up in place of where local business websites used to rank (organically). For example, if I search "water treatment Youngstown Ohio," I get Monster.com listings for jobs in water treatment. I've seen this happen in other industries in my area as well. I don't know how Google assumes you are looking for a job in water treatment (or carpet cleaning, etc) if you don't include the term "job" in the search query.
Stick to basics until a pattern emerges or the algo gets fixed/changed? Hide somewhere dark until it's all gone away?
I'd also like to know if you think this will get fixed before it's rolled out to other countries or, if not, if anyone has any advice as to how to 'prepare' for it. (I realise the first question probably answers this one, but just in case anyone has any tips).
I'd like to ask the same question as davidcharles. I've been trying to find patterns but the only "consistency" I'm seeing is inconsistency, lol.
I personally have just kept plugging away on my usual routine, which mostly consists of local content development (I focus more on local organic results than maps). I do this and hold my breath hoping that Google will work itself out and realize it's more relevant than the spam it's currently ranking first page.
This algo is just scary. It feels like you're optimizing for a black hole.