High Ranking Local Results You Just Might Not Want

We all struggle to achieve high rankings in Google local. It is not clear exactly how hard these businesses have worked to achieve these high rankings.

With Google Local’s ability to parse sentiment, their ability to create business categories on the fly and their desire to serve man you often will find local results that you didn’t quite bargain for. In my research looking for review snippets I was exploring searches in NYC looking for extremes. I managed to get side tracked when I came upon the results for these local searches.

I have caputured the results in an animated slideshow for your viewing ease. One wonders just what Brooklyn based Sal The Plumber did to have Google designate him as the worse plumber in New York City (and a One Box no less):

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
High Ranking Local Results You Just Might Not Want by

20 thoughts on “High Ranking Local Results You Just Might Not Want”

  1. :standing ovation:

    Fantastic catch!
    Now – the question is – if G is getting this wrong – does that make them party to defamation?
    Are they not furthering false information that is denigrating in nature?

    I’m not sure whether they can hide behind “it’s automated”,
    considering Newpapers have been forced to publicly retract and/or reducting such things – G may find itself in the same boat?

  2. @Mike – Interesting find. Did you notice one of the reviews on Judy’s Book had a headline of: “The WORST plumber in Brooklyn”?

    BTW, I see this blog post listed in the G’s search results (for: worst plumber nyc) directly underneath Sal’s local listing. That was fast. 🙂

  3. @John and @Mike: and not only there! The same review has been posted on Insider Pages. The reviews from Judysbook and Insiderpages were later “absorbed” by Citysearch. Furthermore, the reviews date back to 2007, so I suppose there are many more directories where they currently appear, but these 3 are definitely associated with the Place page.

  4. Chances are these originate from the same sources as “reviews” in general – so things like Judy’s book etc. would be prime (along with plenty of others).

    The problem is – those sites are being referenced, without clear indication of where G is sourcing that information from,
    nor is it clearly informing people that those statements/sentiments may be unfounded/unreliable/untrue.

    Not exactly a good move.
    All it takes is an underhanded competitor, or a psycho-ex-relation, or a disgruntled employee … and G will assist them in destroying what may be a reputable business.
    G is furthering the problems of Reputation/Brand management.

  5. @Autocrat
    I suppose that anyone can be sued but I do believe that the law is likely to come down in Google’s favor… although I am no lawyer.

    As to the ability to use reveiws to defame or extort competitors, that has already been occurring.

    CityGrid is a syndication network that takes reviews in and feeds them out to a large number of sites. As such any phrase that is used in a review that they syndicate is likely to be picked up by Google multiple times. It will impact both rankings and review snippets.

    Yes, I have been seeing this pattern in both sentiment based search results and in review snippets.

  6. Mike: First of all funny article. Uggghhh. Who wants those designations.

    On the other hand, and possibly of luck to those noteworthy examples for your various searches, its probable those search phrases generate very few real searches.

    But maybe they should!!! 😀

    In various cases for what are probably non competitive phrases I’ve found the slightest fewest “signals” on the web that probably convey to a category or at least a search term, wherein businesses with no apparent effort at all will show up within 7 pacs.

    I looked more closely at three of them. In all cases the 7 pac ranking which in every case was a “pure 7 pac” as opposed to a merged organic/places ranking showing on google.com’s first page; was dramatically higher ranked than the pure organic ranking

    I searched out the possible reasons for the relatively high 7 pac ranking, finding a few “specific term references” within some citation sources.

    It actually was quite interesting from a variety of perspectives, in working to get higher Places Rankings.

    Getting back to your article. I felt badly for those “winners” of the worst search phrase competition. But then again maybe they deserve it. 😉

  7. @Earl
    Thanks. Humor is a funny thing. 🙂 Not sure if my deadpan delivery would fly or not…

    I would love to know the actual citation sources for the few specific term references.

  8. Hi Mike,

    Ha ha.

    I have such dubious notoriety myself, ranking number 1 in the UK for “terrible SEO” (and I think number 2 in U.S. behind SEOmoz), although I must admit not entirely by accident.

    An interesting collection of cases indeed!

  9. I could hardly believe your results until it tried similar locally here in the UK!
    Worst hotel Brighton
    the worst Brighton hotel ever
    Google came up for both with a 7 pack – Glad none of them are my clients.

  10. Wow…i wouldn’t want to rank for any “worst” in a local search. That would be bad for business. Maybe I should not include strong words such as Bad and Worse when writing my website content. It might “rank” for all i know.

  11. Mike, your post at G+ is ranked #1 for “worst plumber in New York City”. Interesting.

    Also, Sal’s listing no longer pulls up that keyword -at least not for me.

  12. Oh my goodness! I just searched “bad hair salon sarasota fl” and 7 Places listings popped up!

    Mike, do you know what the steps are to correct this?

    How crazy is that, Google Places doesn’t even show the listings for “web design” and yet they show “bad” listings!

    1. @Julie
      That is a good question. Can you email me the particular listing that you are thinking about? mike at blumenthals dot com

      It could be something as innocent as the use of the phrase “bad hair day” or “they’re not bad” occurring in the review corpus some place

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