Attack of the Bad Google Local One-Boxes!

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Shoot Marie, sorry to hear.

I think this is happening on the organic side of the house and I'm not sure how much influence my contacts on the G+ L side of the house have on that department. I believe they've reported it to them a few times.

Maybe we should all go post at WebmasterCentral forum so Matt Cutts, John Mu and the rest of the search team see it? I did Tweet it to Matt once but I'm not sure if Matt ever saw it.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
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Jul 26, 2012
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FWIW, this "issue" seems to be spreading - or at least not subsiding right away. One of my really on-the-ball clients told me that this happened in his market.

Oh Google...
 

Linda Buquet

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This guy at the Google forum said it well:

Where have all the Google maps listings gone ? there are a 199 Google local results missing from several searches ? - Google Groups

This is just wrong and I'm getting a little frustrated.

Wondering if I should reach out to the reporter at the New York Times that broke my expose story about Google allowing people to close listings - when I got fed up that the issue continued to go unresolved.

Closed in Error on Google Places, Merchants Seek Fixes - NYTimes.com

"Nobody is quite sure how prevalent these sham closings have become. In Google Forums, where users can pose questions about Google’s features, there are dozens of exasperated postings like this one, written in July: “Help! My business is listed ‘PERMANENTLY CLOSED’ on Google Maps even though it has always been open! Help!”

I fed the reporter all the links in that story and introduced him to Mike Blumenthal who also contributed to that story. Funny... after that story broke, change started to happen.
 

Linda Buquet

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Copying my reply to him here so I have it because I think it summarizes well.

It's a big problem and your market is not alone.

Many have reported at my forum and I've escalated to Google several times. See this post:
Attack of the Bad Google Local One-Boxes!

I believe this is happening due to the organic algo. The dial was tweaked too high that tries to show a single listing for a branded search.

If the name is Alpine Plumbing and you search for Alpine Pluming - Google properly shows you one listing - Alpine Plumbing.

But when someone has an exact match "city keyword" name like "Denver Plumbers" and you search for "Denver Plumbers" - that single listing gets a one-box even if it's a FAKE keyword stuffed name and is a totally spammy listing. It's getting a one box just like a brand search would show.

I'd report over at Webmaster Central and explain to them that even though this is a local search, Linda said to post in Webmaster Central because the part of algo that's generating this result is on the organic side. Then give them a link to this thread to help them understand what the issue is.
I think before I go to the Times, I'll try to get some attention on this problem over at Webmaster Central. I've been wanting to, but I have limited time these days to play vigilante to try to help folks get big problems like this fixed.
 

Linda Buquet

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Ashley a TC on the Webmaster side just had a suggestion.

"And folks have been using the "Feedback" link on the knowledge graph/one-box?"

I replied:

"My concern is not so much the knowledge graph for that one result. I think if I did feedback on knowledge graph they'd think I was just reporting that listing, which would not get to the bigger issue that's at the core of the matter.

My bigger concern is the one box in the main SERPs that is replacing the 7 pack that should be there. But I guess maybe the feedback link at the bottom of SERPs would report about the regular search results being off, to that department."

But there are 2 feedback links on the page, the one on right I think might go to local to get the listing removed if it's spammy and the one at bottom of back I think goes to organic to report problems with search quality.

So if you have clients affected maybe try both. And if anyone has time, please also report some of the ones I reported in this post. I've spent hours and hours I don't have on this and just don't have time to keep trying to fight this battle for everyone.
 

OmegaMan

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Aug 13, 2012
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OK for the record I don't have a spammy website or Google +

But i do enjoy the 1 box search results :)
 

Linda Buquet

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Jose, you lucky dog. :p You are the only business I know sitting happily in the one box.

Have you noticed much if an increase in clicks or call volume since have the pack all to yourself?
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks Joy, I'm not seeing that one, even with location set.

ATTENTION:

Here are some things you can each do if you have this one-box problem.

Many of the listings Ive found are fake businesses, or pure spam and violate numerous guidelines.
If the listing that has the one-box is violating any guidelines, report it for spam.

Many of the listings have dead sites, disconnected phones or just bogus.
Check to see if the address is valid. Does the site work or is it a parked page?
Call to see if phone is dead or goes to wrong #.
Report it as spam or closed or does not exist.

Report spam or incorrect data like fake names or that the listing is not valid or business is closed, whatever the case may be, right on the listing. Either via report a problem or by hovering next to address see if there is an edit details link. (May depend on the country you are in.)

Then additionally as Ashley suggested over at the Webmaster forum use the feedback links.

There are 2 on the main search results page. The one under the knowledge graph on the right I think may go to the local team. So if spammy or dead listing report the there too as it could possibly go to a different team than report a problem. (Not sure.)

There is another feedback link at the bottom of the page and I believe that one goes to the search quality team. So report bad search results there too for sure!

That's the team that may be able to fix this algo that's causing the problem.

If no one reports, they'll think the results are fine.
 

Marie Ysais

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Sep 18, 2012
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251
It was a great post and I never would have connected the dots with hummingbird!

Thanks for pointing it out Linda. :)
What a hot mess!
 

Linda Buquet

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Copying my reply to you from Mike here too, for folks that aren't reading both.

Thanks Marie, I could not agree more!

I don?t have a personal or vested interest in this issue, just have been fighting for what?s right and trying to help the industry in general.

But I can tell you with certainty, if I still worked with clients and had one that was being negatively affected by this, I already would taken this to the reporter I know at the NY Times. That?s what it took to nip the problem in the bud back when Google was making it too easy for listings to be maliciously marked permanently closed ? had to get media attention on it. I introduced Mike to the reporter and we both contributed to the Times story. Shortly thereafter improvements began to be made.

I keep hoping this issue is going to get resolved and since Google reads Mike?s blog too, hopefully this will help get the right eyes on the situation.

FYI for anyone that has not read my long post ? the problem is 2 fold?

1) Organic algo for brands ? dial cranked too high! The algo that tries to give brands a one-box is wound too tight and is giving any old EMD or fake keyword stuffed name on a Google Local listing a one-box.

2) Local Spam Algo dialed down too far ? I just told Google this week the spammy listings with keyword & geo stuffed titles is getting out of control. (Even aside from this one-box issue.)

Spammers are taking over and many listings should not even be allowed to go live or should be suspended.

Instead they are rewarded with #1 rankings, or worse yet a one-box.

3) There WERE 2 issues, Mike just raised a 3rd. Many of these listings are crusty and old and not even valid. It?s like she dug under a rock to find the worst possible listings, then gave them a one-box and crowned them the only and best business in town.
 

Dave

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Nov 19, 2012
Messages
255
Linda:

It seems that Mike's analysis on where these have come from could be very astute. Many of these oneboxes are old and no longer connected to existing urls.

The timing of "hummingbird" completely coincides with the appearance of these dumb oneboxes. Inappropriate oneboxes is something that google has struggled with on and off for years.

Now at Mike's we referenced that some of these may be showing b/c there are ads parked in the urls.

I referenced the plumber in baltimore url. It was first reported on 8/25. The onebox is still showing for a search for "plumber in baltimore" Its still the same crummy url.

Do you want to see something amazing though. Since we referenced in Mike's blog that the url is a parked domain with crummy ads....

The ADS HAVE BEEN STRIPPED!!!! I have this feeling there are a lot more of these than we realize!!!!!

 

talhaawan

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
11
Hi Guys,

This is not only limited to US.

Google-places-one-box.png

I have always followed linda's and other local marketers advice and achieved results.
But this is really annoying me, i was un-able to answer the client about the problem and he need results. I am actually looking for a solution to this.

Or just wait and see if google changes his algo or clean up whatever mess they have done on the back end?

What should we do?

 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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14,438
See my advice in post #51. See if any of that helps.

If it's a real business with an EMD and that's the real name and there are no violations on the local listing there is not much you can do. But if it's a bogus listing, fake name, disconnected phone you can try to get it taken down.
 

talhaawan

Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2013
Messages
11
Hi Linda,

I already read this whole thread :)

What if there backlinks are not good?

Check this out : dailymortgagetips.info/mortgage-broker-tips/buying-your-first-home-melbourne-mortgage-broker.html

even there anchor text is over optimized. This website does not deserve this ranking.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Not sure about backlinks which are organic. I only know about ways to either report the Place page if there are violations or report poor results which are probably looked at in aggregate and I doubt individual results are fixed. BUT if enough report bad results on these maybe they'll roll back this part of the update.
 

Dave

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2012
Messages
255
Two virtually identical search phrases: one with a onebox one with a 7 pac.

Garage Door Repair Austin = Onebox
Garage Door Repair Austin Tx = Seven Pac (the smb in the onebox above is in the 7 pac.)

From a user perspective there is essentially no difference in intent in any way between the 2 phrases.

From the perspective of user quality the 7 pac is infinitely better.

One more spammy poor result.
 

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