That's pretty much their goal. They will see a huge uptick in adwords revenue in the next few weeks if this keeps up. They will hide behind the "We wanted to provide our search users the best experience in making sure they are getting what they intended to search for and not drive across the city for it" yet there are still a small amount of businesses ranking beyond their normal proximity limit.I originally thought it might have been a hyperlocal thing but (ironically) the local competitor who has come through this totally unscathed is:
- miles away and still ranking well within a 10 mile radius (we have only held up within < 1 mile)
- has an unverified GMB account with no exact address
- has just a keyword+location name and no website link
and his website has a spam score of 55% from Moz. So I can vouch for the fact that this update is penalising well run , highly rated businesses and replacing them with spam businesses.
In one local area where I have been in the map pack all year I have been replaced with one business that rates 2 stars ( vs our 4.5 which is only that low due to malicious fake reviews from a competitor) and by another that actually hasn't been open for 2 years.
Hopefully there is enough backlash that Google undoes much of the damage. Otherwise we might just have to pay them for Adwords. Hmm.
Unless of course they revert this update a notch back so that good businesses don't go out of business.