Update: Google Local Mixed Results Hit the Blender

Well there have been a bunch of busy bees in the Google local search hive. Local has been under the knife a few times. From reset data, to cool visual effects. These are today’s changes in Google’s local blended results.

Gray Google Map MarkerThe New Gray Google Map Marker

Less intrusive, less eye catching, more interactive.

Rolling over the this gray marker will change it blue for pay per click (PPC)  ads on the right, or red for organic listings on the left. Scrolling over markers in the google map section highlights the respective listing markers in the PPC and organic section. You will also get a nice snippet for the local organic listings. No snippets for PPC. It’s also interesting to note that the listings have moved the once red-pins-now-gray-pin to the right of the blended results. Google also removed the triangle pointer they once displayed for the top listing.

Example of Snippet and red corresponding markers for search term Phoenix Pest Control.

Blumenthal alludes to the fact that the move from grey to red might be happening because Google is losing revenues on the local results. So this could decrease traffic to the local listings. But at this point we don’t know how much this will effect traffic to the local listings.

The Local One Box Left-Foot-Shuffle

The One Box moved it’s map to the right, the area usually occupied by PPC ads. … Just a new look?

Searched Bulwark Houston

 

 Changes to Listing Preview

In the past a listing preview would show a screenshot of the website for both local search results and regular search listings. Now the local search results show a smaller screen shot accompanied by a map, images found in google places, quick glance of categories, business hours, review sites with review count, and a feedback link.

 

Bulwark Exterminating - Phoenix Pest Control Results
Full Disclosure - I am a pest control guy for Bulwark Exterminating

The feedback link takes you directly to the “Report a problem” screen of google maps.

If the red pin change was due to a decrease in revenues then it might be interesting to note that this preview is pushing Google’s property a little more. Further, the other review sites are now only visible in the extended view. In the past those sites were found under the place page listing.

Local Bug Report

In the image below the cursor was over the map and it was highlighting the first PPC ad for Bulwark Exterminating and not the correct ad for scorpion control. Just a minor scripting error.

Script Error - Mesa Pest Control Search

This happened again in a Houston search. The marker with no number indicates “not on the map”, the marker with the 1 in it on the map belongs to a different Houston pest control company.

Bulwark Exterminating | 10900 Brittmoore Park Drive Houston, TX 77041
Bulwark Exterminating | 10900 Brittmoore Park Drive

With all the recent updates Google has been moving the local map rankings around. And sadly Bulwark Exterminating dropped out of the Houston pest control local pack. Clearly something is wrong. Needless to say, we have found a few bugs here as well. Not simply because Bulwark wasn’t listed, but because Google was listing a cash parked page from Godaddy that’s for sale. Apparently on-site SEO has little to no relevancy in Google’s Local Listing algorithm.

Yesterday's screen shot for Houston Pest Control

Just a few minor bugs google may want to check into. Overall, Google has done a good job with their local search section. Overall, they still have a lot of problems to fix.

But Don’t mind me, Just a pest control guy… and that is the Search Pest Report.

Pest Control Guy - Thomas Ballantyne

-Thomas Ballantyne III
Director of Marketing for Bulwark Exterminating
Follow me on Twitter —> @Thos003

18 thoughts on “Update: Google Local Mixed Results Hit the Blender

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  3. henry says:

    Nice discussion on Google local search.Yes, i agree with you Google local is giving blended results.I hope Google will change its algorithm and it will give accurate result within in a few days.

  4. Jim Ryan says:

    You unfortunately understate the extent of Google local listing issues and how damaging to the local businesses they effect. Some of the more egregious and problematic, not withstanding the one published in the NY Times article, are old listings that have have mysteriously reappeared to subordinate the current, owner verified listings. Conflation issues that merge two competitors content, even where in one instance I am aware, a competitors phone number appears as the primary phone number in another business’s listing. And now these issues are even more damaging to a local business because they are being showcased on the main SERP? Google needs to get their priorities in line, beginning with acting like they actually care about how their issues damage local businesses.

  5. Chad says:

    While the recent bugs are certainly no boon to local business owners, I think Goolge Places’s most serious weakness is still the unexplainable lag between description updates being shown in the search results. When a business owner must wait for 2-3 months for an updated phone number to show up on their Places page, you have to wonder what’s going on over at Google HQ.

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  10. Thos003 says:

    @Jim Ryan
    Yes. I didn’t hash that up here. As to google hitting the reset button and publishing old data, I’ve experienced the same myself. There are numbers of other issues I also left out. Not that I am sympathetic to google’s lack of attention to detail, but I also understand the balancing act they have with those that seek to take advantage of loop holes.

    But in the end, I recognize that Google places has benefited Bulwark Exterminating as a local business. The overall is a net gain. So I patiently endure the growing pains of Google search.

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  13. John Carter says:

    Here’s a question you should be asking yourself about your PPC: Are the correct negatives being added to your account based on empirical analysis, and are precautions being made to make sure these negatives do not conflict with active keywords? As in, are you blocking the bad traffic with negative keywords based on real data? If not, consider what that’s probably costing you in wasted ad spend. Just note that you don’t want to throw in just any variation of keywords into the negative space because you don’t want to create conflicts with the good working keywords. I had Simon help me out with this before. I’m sure he’d be willing to talk to you too if you just give him a ring at 219-733-4687 and tell him you need some help with your PPC campaigns.

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