Local SEOs Are Trying to Get Google to Change the Local Algorithms

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Local SEO practioners took to Twitter to ask a new Google VP for help in solving a decade-old problem.

New Google VP of Privacy Product Management at Google, Rob Leathern, made a public post on his Twitter saying he was open to having complaints publicly tweeted to him so they could easily be shared internally at Google.

Noted local SEO Joe Youngblood jumped at the chance and asked Rob if they (Google) could stop using the title of a business for ranking purposes in the Local Pack / Google Maps.

Rob asked Joe for an example of what he was talking about

First Joe replied with a list of examples including his 2018 research and screenshots of how awful some local results are in Google, including one filled with spam in Austin, TX where Rob is now based.

Eventually the grandfather of local SEO spam research, Mike Blumenthal, jumped in to the conversation to share his view on the same issue pointing to a network that redirects users to call centers where the leads are collected and sold off to local business owners.

Then Joy Hawkins chimed in as well pointing out her 2019 research which shows the same as Joe’s, that keywords in a business title can drastically and quickly impact the ranking position of a business.

Rob Leathern said he would take the feedback internally to Google.

The next morning Rob came back to point the local SEOs to a blog post Google published two weeks ago about their anti-spam efforts in the local arena.

Mike Blumenthal rightly replied that this is the type of reporting Google has replied to the problem with for over a decade.

Joe expanded upon this by trying to further explain how Google’s anti-spam efforts might appear to be working to Google but the effects are rarely seen by small business owners (or the SEOs representing them) because creating cheap burn and burn listings is incredibly easy and fast the spammers tend to stay on top or get back to the top quickly no matter what action Google takes.

The thread even caught the attention of Twitter anti-spam employee and ex-Googler Kazushi Nagayama who pointed out that Google does not appear to be tracking the ranking impact of the local spam they are claiming to remove and does not appear to have a methodology for reducing the value to spammers faking their way to the top of a Google local / maps ranking.

Will this conversation lead to any actionable changes at Google for local rankings? Unfortunately if the past is a predictor of any kind that answer is “no”. However, having a Google VP involved and seemingly engaging the community so openly on the issue may help push this along as an internal priority.