Webmasters have noticed significant changes in local search results over the last several days. According to forums and reports, webmasters are seeing inaccuracies in local search results as the displayed current location when searching just isn‘t right. It’s speculated the issue is a result of a local search update that occurred shortly after the Google Maps Googlebomb. In addition, these fluctuations come after Google admitted they did an update to their core algorithm, in order to increase quality.
Google Apologizes and Updates
Earlier in the month, it was discovered, when racist terms were searched, the results brought up certain locations, like the White House and Howard University. It appears the issue impacted many races and profanity terms, causing an uproar for the results produced.
Google explained the error, stating:
“Certain offensive search terms were triggering unexpected map results, typically because people had used the offensive term in online discussions of the place. This surfaced inappropriate results that users weren’t looking for.”
As a result, Google issued the following apology:
“This week we had some problems with Google Maps, which was displaying results for certain offensive search queries. Like many of you, we were deeply upset by the issue, and we are fixing it right now.”
Fixing the issue is what appears to have caused the shift in local search results (but keep in mind, there was also a more general content quality update that influenced all results to a degree). Although no one can confirm this update is a direct result of Google displaying racist results, it appears to be a little coincidental to say the least. Either way, the results appear to now be more national organic, while the localized organic results are a bit off.
Although there’s no actual report or confirmation from Google regarding an update, webmasters are reporting this change took place sometime between May 15-24th, shortly after Google’s apology. The only word from Google reporting an update came with their apology, stating, “We’ve started to update our ranking system to address the majority of these searches– this will gradually roll out globally and we’ll continue to refine our systems over time.”
As Google continues to work on the problem, as of 4 days ago, online forums are still flooded with reports of people getting racist search results, not to mention the huge inaccuracy in local search results. It’s speculated this is caused from an error with the location detection used to rank local results.
What Can I Do?
Businesses large and small are reporting inaccurate ranking in search results while Google works to resolve these issues. As the issue is addressed, there are a few things you can do in the meantime to ensure you’ll stay on top of local results.
- Verify your listing and ensure all information is correct.
- Increase the number of inbound links and citations from major data providers.
- Increase your positive reviews on Google.
- Add the proper category associations.
- Place your full business address on the contact page.
- Increase the quality of your inbound links.
- Choose your location keywords carefully. (Watch out for any terms that may possible be construed as racist).
- Include keywords in the anchor text for inbound links.
- Use keywords in your listing description.
- Resolve multiple listing issues.
- Don’t use a 1-800 phone number or Google may not view it as local.
Although Google has made great strides in providing relevant local results, errors from time to time will occur.
- “Google to Implement Googlebomb Fix to Prevent Racist Listings in Google Maps” Search Engine Land
- “Google Maps Racists Results Lead to Googlebomb Fix and Apology” SEO Roundtable
- “Google Local Search Results Update: Massive Ranking Changes” SEO Roundtable