Google Local SEO Filters: What's New and What Should You Do?

By Tinuiti Team

Have you noticed the change lately with how Google filters local search results? It appears that Google has been filtering business listings that show up in search results with more force. People took notice of this phenomenon back in July, reporting that local search results were decreasing and removing many businesses that were once visible.

This filtering activity is tied with a patent that was granted on June 21st. This patent states that a spam score is assigned to a business listing when the listing is received by a search engine. A noise function is added to the spam score, which causes the scores to vary for business listings. If the spam score is greater than a first threshold, the business listing is identified as fraudulent.

Therefore, the listing is either not included in or is removed from searchable business listings. It’s important to note that filter activity isn’t updated in real time by Google. Plus, it impacts certain industries more than others. Spam filtering is different from suspensions because local listings are removed from certain search results and not entirely from Google.

Popular forms of spam that Google hates

You may be freaking out right now about how this will impact your search marketing efforts. Some of your business listings may have been affected already. But keep in mind that this is all for a good cause – to provide users with the best search results of high-quality content. And millions of useless spam pages are created every day to show up in Google search results.
You know that your search marketing techniques have to meet certain quality standards to be on Google’s good side. Unfortunately, there are many ways for the opposite to take place. For example, websites that are low-quality or pages with little to no added value are filtered out of search results as spam: thin affiliate pages, automatically generated content or copied content. Another example of spam is unnatural links to and from a website, such as through link schemes.

Pages that contain hidden text or keyword stuffing are also vulnerable to spam filtering. Parked domains are placeholder websites that get removed from search results because they contain no unique content. High-quality websites can even be hacked by third parties who add spammy content or links. This list could go on and on, but the point is you have to be careful about maintaining search marketing practices that truly enhance the lives of users.

More things you should keep in mind

There are more factors you should keep in mind to guide your search marketing techniques. One factor is the age of local search listings. Newer listings are more likely to be filtered out of search results, compared to older listings. Old listings have more ranking power and are often the target of spammers. Spammers like to hijack these listings because they tend to rank high.

Another factor is the organic presence of local listings in search results. Spammers on Google Maps have historically created fake local listings without a prominent organic presence. Therefore, Google uses this lack of strong presence as an indicator.

Duplicate information can also be a reason why local listings get filtered out. Things such as the same business addresses or phone numbers can give rise to removal. For example, using the address of a plaza that other businesses share could be a reason.

Overall, it’s important to make sure your local listings are unique and high-ranking with a strong organic presence. These tactics and the ones mentioned earlier will make your search marketing efforts more resilient, if not already practiced.​

Google’s local SEO filters are pushing businesses to play the search marketing game with a smarter approach. Keep your local listings of high-quality and a strong ranking to avoid removal. Are you ready for the challenge? We provide brands with a variety of SEO services, such as search visibility optimization for exceptional local search. For more about Google, read How Feed Quality Affects Google Shopping.​

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