SHave you noticed a shift in Google’s local search results? This may have been caused by a recent and quiet update to the search results filter.
In the last couple of months, you may have noticed that Google has updated the local search results filter for local business listings. This sorts through all of the listings that should be in the Local Finder (the feature that comes up when you click more places). The filter sorts through the listings based on their spam score.
A spam scored is assigned to a business listing when the listing is received by a search engine. A noise function is then added to the spam score so that the score is varied. If the spam score ends up being greater than the first threshold, the listing will be flagged as fraudulent, and will not be included in the group of searchable listings.
In July of 2016, people started reporting that local search results were diminishing. Unfortunately, there were many businesses being eliminated that were previously visible. Last month on September 1, the results changed again and included several businesses in the local search results, the same businesses that had been eliminated back in July.
Our local search results team at Tandem Interactive noticed a couple of things about the new filter.
- The filter does not run in real time. We believe that Google reruns this filter every couple of weeks or possibly months.
- The filter impacts some industries more strictly than others. It seems that in some industries the filter does not exist, whereas in other industries, more businesses are getting filtered.
With regards to this new found information, you may be wondering what factors contribute to Google filtering local search results:
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- Age of listing – The age of a listing is one of the strongest ranking factor that affects the 3-pack. Older listings generally hold a ton of ranking power.
- Organic ranking – All of the listings ranking in the Google 3-pack also have organic rankings in the top ten positions as well.
- Duplicate listings – Businesses that employ methods to include multiple listings for the same business is something that Google looks at when evaluating the spam filter. Google can also see removed listings, which affect companies who remove their listings but still use the same phone number.
Factors that do not affect the Google local search results filter:
- Business name – The business name is one of the most misused fields on Google My Business. Google has very strict guidelines around how you should list your company, yet businesses continuously add descriptions and keywords. They can get away with this practice because Google does not appear to have a good method of automatically enforcing their guidelines when it comes to the names of businesses.