Google Support Says GMB Description Helps Rankings? Pigeon Ranking Signal Change?

Linda Buquet

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In the past Google management has come right out and said the description is not a ranking factor but a new post from Phil Rozek questions whether that has changed with the Pigeon update?

I suspect not. I also suspect these support emails are from outsourced 3rd party support. They just do not read like carefully scripted Google support emails do.

<a href="http://www.localvisibilitysystem.com/2014/07/30/google-places-support-claims-descriptions-help-rankings/">Google Places Support Claims Descriptions Help Rankings? | LocalVisibilitySystem.com</a>
(Just a snippet - so click the link to read full post.)

Google has always kept their cards close to the vest regarding local ranking factors. They never get into specifics.

Also, I?m not alone when I say that the ?description? or ?introduction? field of your Places page doesn?t seem to influence your rankings for the better (although extreme keyword-stuffing can get you penalized).

It?s for those two reasons I?m puzzled by a pair of emails that apparently came from the Google Places support staff.
You need to click over to read both support emails but here is just one small part.

"The system actually uses this section when it?s looking for potential search terms to trigger your page. It?s always a good idea to add relevant phrases. Including search terms and even location terms gives you a much better chance to show for these specific phrases."

Head over to Phil's to read the rest!

I'm highly skeptical of the advice in these emails due to the tone and content. Sounds like someone with SEO background that 'thinks' they know how this works - like maybe a it's 3rd party outsourced marketing agency filling a support role? (More below.)

Anyone who's taken my training or even just reads all my posts here, knows about the ranking penalty that can come from keyword or geo stuffing description. Not that they were suggesting "stuffing" per se, but just wanted to add that so anyone reading this that is not very experienced doesn't just run out and add a bunch of crap to their description that could cause negative consequences.

My Comment at Phil's:

"In the past Google management has come right out and said the description is not a ranking factor. Wonder if this has changed with Pigeon?

But I can?t make sense of this update. It?s supposed to be more about traditional organic factors, but check Chesapeake Account. (Purposely low competition, low optimized niche I was researching to try to reverse engineer the algo.

The A and B spots. No site, which shoots the organic theory.

Both unclaimed G+ L listings too, so no descriptions.

Given the info above though I?m going to check another market looking at descriptions to see if there may be something to this.
"

Then later I thought some more and said:

"Meant to say I've seen a few questionable comments come from that Ann Arbor group, so I wonder if that's new outsourced support or something possibly?"

For one thing support does not usually go out of there way to give ranking tips. Or ANY tips unless you have something set wrong. And they aren't supposed to talk about ranking.

For another regular support does not keep mentioning where they are from or what department they work in. So this does seem like outsourced support to me.

And last as I said above the tone sounds like it's a marketing agency, tone does not sound at all like Google support. (I don't know that for sure and could be wrong, just my perception.)

What do you think???

Do you think descriptions are now a ranking factor?

Anyone want to test?

Have you gotten other support emails that sound like ones at Phil's, that say they are from Ann Arbor and give ranking tips or questionable advice???

<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content="In the past Google management has come right out and said the description is not a ranking factor...">
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JoyHawkins

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I do actually think the description is a ranking factor. I've done extremely limited testing on it but from what I was doing, it appears that things like product names or brands are a good thing to include in the description. I wouldn't include things like service areas or categories because there are already appropriate fields for that. But if you are a major retailer that sells specific brands (for example), I've seen listings where listing the brands in the description helped pull your listing for that keyword.

I definitely need to test it more before I can say this for sure though. I only tried a few listings.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Google support said this before the latest algo change.

Almost every time I would call in, they would give me tips on how to rank better, even though I didn't ask for them. Many of the tips they gave were in contradiction with what we know to be true from a research standpoint.

I just don't pay attention to them anymore.

However, when I read Phil's post the response from the support reps is different than I expected. They went into a lot of detail on what to add. Normally, they are very vague. "Well, make sure you have a better description and get more reviews, that should help," etc.

Maybe there is something to it but it's so miniscule that it's not worth the chance of getting penalized.

Who knows though, the landscape is obviously changing.
 

Linda Buquet

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I think Google wants you create a rich accurate description, so no problem with that.

I agree that adding additional details can help, especially for things like niche services that don't pull a custom category and are also not that competitive. Or things like a few key brands customers may search for.

I'm just concerned that a Google support rep giving advice like: "Including search terms and even location terms gives you a much better chance to show for these specific phrases" could be translated wrong and by some unknowing users and lead to keyword and geo stuffing.

Someone just told me in a private convo a support rep gave them another ranking tip that I know to be wrong.

So my main concern is I don't think Google support should give out ranking advice at all (and especially if incorrect) and I don't believe Google wants them to either.
 

george

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Hello,

I was, in fact, advised by GMB Phone Support to add a keyword into the description. This was last week, prior to the update.

I called in to ask them to add a category for me that is not available in the suggested categories. This was for a SAB client of mine with hidden address (and not on MapMaker obviously), so I thought I would try my luck with the phone support.

While the lady said she will not be available to add the desired category for me, she said I should add it to the description and that this would also be a signal for Google.

Not sure how strong that singal is, but did not really help us - all other competitors have that category and rank well, but they chose not to hide their address, so I suppose some of them were able to add it via Mapmaker.
 

HurricaneK8

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George, It's so frusterating when SAB's that should have hidden addresses don't, and therefore get a different set of rules and an unfair advantage! I see this alot with real estate agents who work out of their homes, as well as contracters we work with (painters, brick repair, etc.). One didn't even have the correct address on their listing and it took 4 months to get Google to take it down.

I gave up on reporting them on MapMaker :( Every once and a while when there's a really spammy set of listings, i'll report them all-- but they almost always get denied, so I go back to beating them in other ways with reviews/citations/awesome on page SEO/etc. It's so easy to check too! Just hit street view, and if it doesn't have a sign out front and looks like a house, I think it's safe to assume they don't conduct business there!:mad:
 

Linda Buquet

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Hello,

I was, in fact, advised by GMB Phone Support to add a keyword into the description. This was last week, prior to the update.

I called in to ask them to add a category for me that is not available in the suggested categories. This was for a SAB client of mine with hidden address (and not on MapMaker obviously), so I thought I would try my luck with the phone support.

While the lady said she will not be available to add the desired category for me, she said I should add it to the description and that this would also be a signal for Google.

Not sure how strong that signal is, but did not really help us - all other competitors have that category and rank well, but they chose not to hide their address, so I suppose some of them were able to add it via Mapmaker.
Yes adding keywords like that that don't come up as default cats is fine advice. And I do think it's a 'signal' because Google looks at everything - so everything is a signal.

But adding a KW to description is not going to help you outrank listings that have that category listed and/or have other stronger signals going for them.
 

rosshouser

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@ linda Barry Schwartz at Search Engine land today posted today that Google Indeed is now testing Introduction or descriptions of Google local businesses,Google Mobile Testing Search Results Snippet Descriptions

Google Mobile Testing Search Results Snippet Descriptions

With the email I got today from Google about some clients listings and with Barry's article. I am guessing that Google still has something up there sleeves and that Introductions and or localized descriptions will play a big part in ranking of local businesses.
I have tried with some clients adding localized keyword descriptors and have gone up in rankings significantly. Went from not showing at all at some locations to being the only location showing even. Some taking first spot just by adding all variations of city name and zip and keywords to the descriptions or introduction.

What do you think still to soon to tell or?
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Ross,

Barry's post is about search descriptions, the meta descriptions on websites.

Not sure about the G+ L description other than in the past Joel from Google said it was not a ranking signal. But things change. Experiment and see.

But as I've said before I've helped folks that got a 3 - 10 page rank penalty for KW repetition and sometimes the penalty lasted 5 months. So I'd tread carefully.
 

rosshouser

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Yeah the message I got even from another email today was from a Google local rep in michigan named Dave . Again telling me to add more of a localized description to better rank well in Google yet his email was very confusing cause like you said its borderline keyword stuffing and where do you draw a line at thay point and not get penalized.
It seams to me traditional SEO and trusted citation sources are the way to go and play it on the safe side.
Its to early and hard to tell at this point if the more localized description is going to play a major role or if the localized description is going stick in rankings.

I will keep you updated on any changes .
 

cdawg2610

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While I've not talked to someone recently about this I will say I've always taken this approach when I write my descriptions for Google (in the auto industry, if they have a body shop I'll add a bit and link to that, link to new or used cars) and might list one or two other neighborhood locations (my background was SEO before starting local listings so it was the natural thought process for me). I've never done more than 2 links or cities - just for another perspective on it (knock on wood, I've not had anything with the huge penalties and have seen success post-Pigeon.)
 

rosshouser

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Well today I looked at one of the trial accounts and sure enough @linda I am having a issue with a couple more or less i can not manage the Google my business local page it is giving me this error

https://support.google.com/business/answer/2813613?p=something_wrong&rd=1

Yet if I try to click the edit or gear icon like they instruct to do, then whole top have is dark and will not let me click anywhere, however If I go to the bulk upload panel and make edits I still can Even in accounts that are not bulk uploaded.
With the testing of many locations in Healthcare and construction industries I am seeing that if you have more of a serviced based business then you are not penalized as you would be for a regular local listing for adding localized descriptions and or tags.
At least that is what I have been seeing with some of my clients and tests that I have done.

Just bumping the local location in the bulk upload link brings the location back as well.

Any thoughts?
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry Ross, I didn't follow most of that.

What do you mean by trial account?

"I am seeing that if you have more of a serviced based business then you are not penalized as you would be for a regular local listing for adding localized descriptions and or tags."

What do you mean "localized descriptions" that's not a problem.

What tags do you mean?

And why are you trying to edit regular listings in bulk?

Sounds like you should maybe start a new thread for all these other issues that are not related to whether support gives description ranking advice?
 

rosshouser

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Sorry Linda, "localized descriptions" I am talking about keywords or category along with adding adding city name and zip to the description or introduction page.
More or like this:

'Business name provides (category and or categories ) to residents of city, state and zip and if service area then change to residents of those service areas."

I have tried this on some local listing and have had great ranking success mainly in service areas with out any hiccups or violations, but with the non service areas I have seen if I do the localized description I am calling it, have that problem with not being able to edit or change anything on the Google local my business page. it shows this as shown below. Yet if I go to
www.places.google.com/manage/
and bump the listing or resubmit the listing there with no edits, then all is fixed and have complete access again and those locations are now first in ranking in the 3 or 7 pack even.




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