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New Post-Pigeon Ranking Technique – Google Places

Locksmiths are never slow when it comes to finding new tactics to rank on Google Places. Since the Google Pigeon ranking update, traditional SEO factors impact ranking more. This means that sites that have high organic ranking, tend to rank better in local (Google Places).

So what locksmiths are now doing is finding a directory that has a high organic ranking, and linking to it in their Website URL field on their Places listing. The page they link to isn’t even the listing for their business on that particular directory, it’s simply whatever page is ranking organically for the keyword they are targeting.


Locksmith Spam

Search Term: Locksmith Silver Spring MD

The locksmith is linking to which is a page that shows up on the first page organically.

According to the Google Places Quality Guidelines, for your website field, you should “provide one website that represents your individual business location”.  I think if the link went to a listing or a search results page that highlighted the business, it would probably be okay (this example does neither).  Would Google consider this a violation and penalize or change the listing in question? That’s still to be determined. What do you think?

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Joy Hawkins

Joy is the owner of the Local Search Forum, LocalU, and Sterling Sky, a Local SEO agency in Canada & the USA. She has been working in the industry since 2006, writes for publications such as Search Engine Land, and enjoys speaking regularly at marketing conferences such as MozCon, LocalU, Pubcon, SearchLove, and State of Search. You can find her on Twitter or volunteering as a Product Expert on the Google My Business Forum.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Hey Joy, just wanted to provide some feedback on this. I have seen this off and on since July when Pigeon launched and it was one of the first things I tested / complained about. It seems to be getting less affect just over the past week and those who were being malicious and adding then removing it for the residual link benefit seem to be losing that affect as well.

    It’s definitely far from ideal and keep in mind that in Los Angeles for attorney searches they took the two attorneys who were taking advantage of this out of the pack (although it took a while).

  2. This tactic is rampant in legal. Folks are using Google Plus pages and legal directory profiles. Clear violations of Places Quality Guidelines. But, as you point out, it works… really, really well. But like most things spamtastic, it eventually won’t.

  3. Good luck trying to take down those spam listings with Maps RAP (Report a problem). I had two instances of reports being ignored (obvious spam is obvious), one with special characters in the name, and the other the LE (Google Listing Editor) changed it from a fake street address to a SAB (service area business with hidden address) and left the spam listing up. A third report took 10 months to process, they took the wrong action, and it wasn’t even related to spam–a major city in Canada was missing, and they didn’t bother to check to see that I had it corrected via an alternate route two months ago. Maps RAP is just a cesspool of incompetence, and has been for years.

    1. Very interesting. I would think it would be fine to link to a directory if it was YOUR listing on the directory, but these cases link to pages that have no mention of the business linking to it at all. Seems pretty sketchy. I haven’t recommended it because I can’t see this working as a strategy long-term.

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