Is it time to rethink our definition of keyword stuffing?

Lachlan_Wells

Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2019
Messages
13
After Google confirmed last week that they won't manually review submissions to change names, and several years offering spam cleanup as a service, I'm starting to think it might be time to evolve my definition of keyword stuffing. Have I succumbed to joining a team I can't beat? Well maybe, but hear me out first.

The vast majority of listings breaking the business name guideline aren't alphabet soup like the canadian loan agency below, they're borderline cases like this Hertz listing. If you're Hertz's competitor, you're reliant on Google to fix this of course.

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 2.38.36 pm.png


However, Google's mission is not to provide the best search results, it's to provide the best user experience.

In a way, the guidelines are a prototype of this UX ideal, where every business name contains only a brand and all descriptors are elsewhere. By delegating all name decisions to AI though, Google has decided that name standards are ultimately set by the user. If hardly any local guides are submitting name edits and the ML algo doesn't receive enough conflicting data, then the name the business owner has chosen must be OK.

The question is, what do you do if you operate in a market full of competitors like Hertz, where the most visible profiles all follow the same name conventions and repeated edits haven't worked? Do you start a network of fake accounts and submit edits from different IPs, or do you ask your customers to help after they've already rated, reviewed and uploaded photos? This doesn't seem realistic.

Perhaps we should treat business names the way we've always treated page titles? If we don't think our users will mind a few extra keywords, we add them to the title so they can potentially increase rank. Or if we want to stand out, we might try a super short title and see if that improves CTR. With both page titles and GMB, there's no penalty if Google decides they have to change your name, so we're free to experiment. Until we have a local algo that doesn't rely massively on keywords in business names, maybe the best way to serve our clients is to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the user instead of attempting to enforce a standard we can't control.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
3,318
I think your points are really valid. As an agency, we don't add keywords to the business name because I don't really want to risk an account suspension. However, if I'm consulting with a business and they ask my advice, I usually lay out the pros vs the cons. I'd have to agree at the moment that the pros well outweigh the cons.
 

Lanerizz

Member
Joined
Feb 26, 2019
Messages
52
One way I've gotten it where we can have our cake and eat it too is I've had clients legally change their business name to include their primary keyword. Doesn't risk suspension, adds value to the user and raises rankings almost immediately.

Not an option for ALL businesses, but it's been a very successful tactic when implemented.

Or you can just go all in like this ER company that opened in my area: Home | ER Near ME
 

HoosierBuff

Member
Joined
Dec 12, 2013
Messages
290
Honestly, the penalty (if limited to one single account) are small. Sadly, it's worth doing. The ranking impact is too great.
 

j_holtslander

Member
Joined
Feb 5, 2019
Messages
113
The example image posted... the one on the left... I’ve visited it. It’s a virtual office too.
 

BenFisher

Local Search Expert
Joined
Nov 19, 2015
Messages
397
I 100% agree with Joy. I will be talking more about this at SMX, but here is how Google sees it.

Title spam is a lower priority in terms of an infraction of the guidelines if it is not misleading or fraudulent in nature. Title spam is more of a quality issue versus a factual issue.

If the title of a business name conveys what they do and is not misleading, well...

There can still be consequences, Google could get a lot of suggested edits and reach out to the merchant and warn or suspend them or they could get caught in a spam sweep as a false positive.
 

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