Is Google filtering your business in the local search results?
Seeing a shift in Google's local results? It's not just you. Columnist Joy Hawkins documents what appears to be a recent refresh to Google's local ranking filter.
It seems very apparent that Google has a filter for local that weeds through all the listings that should appear in the 3-pack on Google and in the Local Finder (when you click “More Places”), then filters some based on their spam score.
Bill Slawski wrote about this in July and referenced the patent that was granted June 21, 2016, about it. To quote the patent:
A spam score is assigned to a business listing when the listing is received at a search entity. A noise function is added to the spam score such that the spam score is varied. In the event that the spam score is greater than a first threshold, the listing is identified as fraudulent and the listing is not included in (or is removed from) the group of searchable business listings.
I started seeing more of this filter back in July of this year when people started reporting that the local search results were shrinking and eliminating a lot of businesses that were previously visible. The screenshot below helps show the difference that the filter makes. Before July 2016, there were several businesses that were included in the list that were eliminated in July.
Then on September 1, the results completely changed again, and many of the previously filtered listings are now included.
Some observations that I’ve made about the filter so far are:
- The filter doesn’t run in real time. We saw an update some time at the beginning of July that shrunk a lot of the local results. Since then, the results didn’t update whatsoever — until September 1. No new businesses were included and none from the existing list were eliminated for a period of two months. This leads me to believe that Google reruns this filter in cycles (which could be weeks or months).
- The filter is impacting some industries way more than others. In certain industries, it almost appears like the filter doesn’t exist (or the criteria aren’t very strong), whereas in other industries there are more listings getting filtered than making the cut.