Local U 2019: Map Spam, Review Stars, Google Winning, Yelp Losing, and Joy Hawkins

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Map Spam, Review Stars and Google Winning: Learnings from Local U Advanced 2019
by Will Scott, SearchInfluence.com
October 4th, 2019

I would be remiss if I didn’t start this post with the biggest bombshell of the day:

Sterling Sky is buying Local U. ....

We Have Been Wrong All This Time about < Title > Length
Joel Headley, a former Googler, now works with PatientPop, an online marketing platform for physicians. At PatientPop, Joel has access to thousands of websites on which he can test theories about ranking.

Let’s stipulate that the HTML title tag is one of the most important pieces of text on any web page. Feel free to disagree, but you’re wrong. For the longest time, SEOs have believed that to include any more text than is displayed in Google’s blue links was redundant and potentially harmful to ranking. Through his testing, Joel shows unequivocally that this thinking is incorrect. ....

Google Is Eating Yelp’s Lunch (and Dinner and … ) in Review Volume
Mike’s presentation showed us that our wish is finally coming true. Yelp is becoming irrelevant.

Given Yelp’s historical reputation with small businesses I’m sure this will be well received. Yes, Google is often too big to care, but at least they’re not perceived as predatory and capricious in their application of their own rules. Mike shares in his presentation a number of interesting facts about reviews then and now:
  • Consumer trust in reviews is leveling off over the last few years.
  • After increasing from 2014-17, the number of people who leave reviews appears to be leveling off as well.
  • Consumers don’t believe in perfection. A 5 star business is less trusted.
  • The magic number appears to be 4 – 4.5 stars for highest trust (and revenue).
  • There are a lot fewer review sites being used today.
Cleaning Up Maps Spam Will Improve Your Ranking
I’ve heard Joy talk about this a few times, but what made this session really stick for me was her examples of how to really get rid of spam and junk listings.

As I’ve often said about duplicate content on the web, it’s not that you’re being penalized, per se, it’s that Google is confused. If you want good rankings, confusing Google is bad. It’s the same with junk and spam listings. Giving Google more data to choose from makes it more likely that the machines will choose the wrong data.

And, there’s a crapton of “fake” listings in maps.


A couple of really useful pieces of knowledge are:
  • Google doesn’t want to show a residential address on maps. If you identify these as residential listings, they’ll be removed.
  • Because of the way Google ingests data, there are lots of unverified listings with no address. Report that these businesses don’t exist, and they’ll be removed.
  • If it’s really spam, like a lead-gen listing, report it, and it will be removed.
Imagine how much better your listings will look when 8 out of their 10 competitors for rankings are gone.

Want more info? Check out Joy’s Ultimate Guide to Fighting Spam.

Looking Forward to Local U, The Next Generation

Joy is one of the smartest, hardest working folks in Local Search. She and her team at Sterling Sky are well respected and have a history of doing the right thing.

I’m excited to see how Local U evolves, and I look forward to my continued involvement, in whatever form it takes.
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