Cleaning Up: Google’s Crackdown on Local Map Pack Spam

Local SEO is a rapidly changing arena, and true to form, we’ve seen some shakeups over the past few months. One of the most notable updates is that Google has made a considerable effort to clean up spam that’s long been plaguing the local map packs.

The number of exact match searches to Google My Business titles has reduced dramatically, especially for local service based businesses such as electricians. There was just one pocket of San Diego where I found a spam listing displaying for an electrician. A search for “Encinitas Electrician” yielded a Google My Business listing titled “Encinitas Electricians.”

The website is only a single page with “cookie-cutter” content – for years this page has ranked along with variations for “Carlsbad Electricians,” “Vista Electricians” and a handful of other local communities tailed to those exact match queries.

This is a vast improvement from even a few months ago. At the time, some industries were so plagued with spam, it was nearly impossible to tell which was a reputable business! I think this has a lot to do with why Google developed their “Home Services Ads” as they needed to further verify businesses with background checks and robust data completion. That way they could better attest to the relevancy of their search results.

When I take a step back, I can see how this shift definitely reflects Google’s larger goal of only displaying hyper-relevant search results. Understandably, bad search results could bring fewer searches/less traffic to Google, so it’s pretty clear why they’ve had to crack down.

Google has always taken this stance on paper, but it’s just recently they’ve shown in action how truly serious they are about cleaning up the local map packs. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that this push to clean up the results happened just as the Google Map Maker was shutting down and expanded Home Service Ads were ramping up.

Less map pack spam is a big deal in the local SEO world; not only are fake listings showing less often than ever before, they’re harder to pass off or create. It’s really nice to see businesses finally being rewarded for utilizing Google My Business by the book.

If you found this information helpful, be sure to check out our post “2016 Landscape of Local Search.

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