Google might be changing the way local results work as of this writing. As of September 6, SearchEngineLand.com noticed that Google’s seemingly implementing a local filter. Said filter is weeding out listings in the 3-pack and in the Local Finder (accessible when users click ‘More Places.’) Afterwards, Google filters some based on spam scores.
This could have a major impact on local SEO. SearchEngineLand.com’s Joy Hawkins notes that word of the filter has been going around back in July. Back then, people claim that local search results were much smaller. Several businesses which were previously visible were axed. Apparently, the filter doesn’t even care if a result is verified. As long as it satisfies the spam score criteria, it doesn’t appear.
Experts call this ‘hyperlocal.’ It’s as its name implies: search results are shrinking. Fewer results are showing for locale-specific queries than before. What used to be a typical 4-page return or greater is now putting out one-page results. Two pages, for those lucky enough.
Google going hyperlocal is a two-edged sword. On one hand, specific services like plumbing could use some hyperlocal results. Homeowners would love it if a service provider that’s much nearer their location exists. Any choice that’s located a bit further away, despite its popularity and good reviews, is likely to be ignored. It’s because such a trade often requires door-to-door appointments.
On the other, services like web design are often remote. A full consultation is possible online. Users can just e-mail a prospective designer, send them their requirements, then wait for the project to be finished. There’s little to no need for client and designer to see eye to eye. Thus, going hyperlocal doesn’t make sense for such businesses.
What’s This Filter Based On?
A listing’s age, for instance, can get it axed from the SERPs. It’s currently one of the strongest ranking factors for Google’s 3-pack. Older listings have much more ranking power, making them excellent targets for spammers. As a result, the spam score goes up and Google takes notice. Organic ranking is another. Spammers are known to create fake listings that lack good organic presence. Therefore, Google using this as an indicator is a sensible move.
It’s important to keep your eyes peeled for this development.