Original Content found here on SearchEngineLand
Google is now filtering based on address and affiliation.
Previously, we would often see a local filter applied to the local results that filtered out profiles that shared a similar phone number or domain.
For example, you might have a chiropractor office that has three separate listings for individual practitioners and then one listing for the practice itself. These separate profiles would all link to the same website and use the same phone number. Usually, only one or two of these would show up in the local results, and the others would be filtered.
This makes sense, as Google regularly filters duplicate content organically, and showing their users tons of results from the same company isn’t necessarily what’s best for users. When you are searching for a new dentist, do you really want to see the same office listed several times?
Since this update, we are seeing a lot of businesses filtered out due to the address of the business being the same as another listing in their same category (same type of business). Here is an example.
You search “personal injury attorney palmdale,” and you get 16 results in the Local Finder. There are at least five listings using the address 1008 W Ave, Palmdale, CA, that are all personal injury attorneys. Currently, one is showing in the Local Finder and the other four are filtered:
- Stefyan Law Firm — showing
- DeVille Law Group Inc — filtered
- iAccidentLawyer — filtered
- Nadrich & Cohen — filtered
- Wilshire Law Firm — filtered
Broland over on the Local Search Forum pointed out that you can see the filtered listings if you just slightly zoom in on the map in the Local Finder. When I do that for this query, I now get 61 results — and most of the filtered results I referenced above are now showing.
In another case I looked at, a business owner had two listings that were named differently, had different phone numbers, different websites and different addresses. We tracked his ranking daily and used a tracker by BrightLocal that also took screen shots of the search results every day.
Each day that one listing showed up, the other did not. They kept flipping back and forth but never appeared together at the same time.
At first, I was confused at the connection because their entire Name, Address, Phone number (NAP) profile was different. The client then explained that they are technically in the same building even though they have different addresses. The address varies based on which side of the street you come in on.
This information helped me confirm that Google is a bit more sophisticated than just looking at the address you enter in Google My Business (GMB).
(On that note, many have tried to escape the filter by simply adding a suite number. This has not worked on any case I’ve looked at.)
In another case, it got even crazier. There is a dentist I work with who owns two different practices. They are both on the same road but have completely different addresses and are not in the same building. They have different NAPs, different doctors, the sites aren’t hosted together, and they are not claimed in the same Google account. The only connection is that he owns both, and technically, the parent company that owns both is what would be listed on their business license.
I’ve known for a while now that Google often asks for business licenses when business listings get suspended, but it seems now that Google really knows a lot more about who owns multiple companies in the same industry than I suspected.
In the case of this dentist, his two practices used to both rank in the 3-pack for various keywords. Currently, I cannot get them to trigger together. Based on what I type in, I get either one or the other.
Keep in mind, this filter is not the same as a penalty. Google isn’t removing the listing or preventing it from ranking for anything at all. Instead, it works much like the organic filter, which picks the “best” and most relevant listing and filters others that are too similar.
I often see different listings ranking for different keywords, so while the law firm’s listing ranks for “personal injury attorney,” the individual lawyer’s profile might rank instead for “motorcycle accident attorney” if it had more relevance (like reviews that talk about motorcycle accidents).