Have the Hummingbird One Boxes Been Flushed Down the Toilet?


As you know I have been a fierce critic of the bad local results that came out of the Hummingbird update. Search terms that should have returned lists of local businesses would often return a branded one box that often would be complete spam.

When it was critical for a client, I reported the bad results and they would disappear after the second or third report.  Often after writing an article, some would magically disappear. But I was tracking several as markers that I hadn’t reported and those are now gone.

I am curious if others are seeing the same thing. Have the s$%%^&y Hummingbird One Boxes disappeared for you? Has Google final solved this problem? Can I finally put a lid on (at least for now)  the toilet humor?

Or was it just the few that I was monitoring have disappeared and there is still the problem of brand being such a strong signal that spam will surface?

Can you let me know if you are seeing fewer of the Hummingbird precipitated branded one boxes?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Have the Hummingbird One Boxes Been Flushed Down the Toilet? by

28 thoughts on “Have the Hummingbird One Boxes Been Flushed Down the Toilet?”

  1. I recently verified client that is an Electrician. Once verified, he appeared just hours later on Google Places. The following day, I added 2 additional categories (landscape lighting, lighting designer) and now the listing is no longer visible, except in Maps. I removed the added categories and he is still not visible. I have never run into this before. Any explanation?


  2. Hi Mike — I was excited when I read that you were seeing a decrease in this spammy junk. I checked some of the queries with which I’ve been experiencing spam, and am sad to report that its the same as usual.

    The types of keywords i’m searching traditionally produce the local carousel, instead of a pack of results. Spammy hotel aggregation sites are ruling these terms with their useless one box. The worst offender i’m contending with is a great local business named “miami hotels.” Sheesh…gimme a break.

  3. YAY if they are going away. I’d like to quit harping about it too!

    Have not had time to check many, still found a few, but something has changed that I just noticed.

    In the past if you hit one-box in the SERPs then clicked to maps or directly searched maps for that same term you would only see the one box in maps as well – no other listings.

    Today when I was trying to check it out, even KWs that pull a one box when you go to maps it shows a list of all the listings. (In classic.)

    One box example: “Lewisville Taxi” (not sure if that’s the real name or a spam listing. But either way it’s still a generic search term that should be showing a pack.) But use it just to check and see how maps is behaving differently.

    Thanks for the update!

  4. Mike after Colan reported seeing ranking shifts at my place I checked listings I track and am seeing lots of shuffle. (Up, down and every which way, including listings that are normally not in the pack showing up.)

    Plus a Plumber you and I have consulted for who is always in the A spot just emailed to ask why they dropped out of the pack. She may have emailed you too.

    So it looks like there is a either a dance or full update under way?

    Are you seeing/hearing anything about a shuffle?

  5. @Jake:

    This is an actual listing:

    Lawyers in Milwaukee https://plus.google.com/108506142867805511073

    And…clicking through Edit Details lands you…this address:
    8989 North Port Washington Road
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53217

    Which lands you here:

    Which takes you here:

    Goldstein Law Group, S.C.:

    Two listings for the same lawyer? Virtual forwarding number? SAB (service area business) for lawyer (and no, meeting at a local Starbucks or virtual office doesn’t count).

    If lawyer listings nationwide are 70% spam, what is Google doing to verify the listings, other than sending a PIN card or code? Every lawyer is licensed. That means every lawyer office can be easily verified using (online) state bar association databases, with name, address, tel, and status. It’s cheaper, easier, and quicker than calling. The keyword that would activate this manual review is lawyer or attorney. Also, the address should have raised red flags, as it’s a law office sharing the same address, which is unusual. Lawyers, since they’re heavily spammed, should be manually reviewed. It would take less than a minute to examine the documentation and make the call as to whether the listing should be on Maps, or not.

    In other words, Google Maps is essentially a spam lead farm.

  6. @Dan I totally agree. It’s been this way for lawyer/attorney searches in Milwaukee for at least three months (the offending firm is not my client, btw). Personally I have no problem with heightened verification for law firms, but I don’t really have any thing to hide.

    I’ve also seen instances where the same law firm gets two Places listings (at the same address with slightly different names) and instances where a firm’s ranking Places page says something to the effect of “Milwaukee Ozaukee Waukesha County Lawyers.” That doesn’t include multiple site listings in the surrounding organic results and the heightened presence of third party directories.

    My client’s doing OK, but it’s still frustrating when you see just how spammy those results (and a lot of firm’s, let’s be honest) are.

    Exact Match Domains are still alive and well here too, which is equally annoying.

  7. Thanks Mike I checked the weather report too, but am not seeing a big spike today, just that gradual increase over the past few days.

    I just asked in our SKYPE group and hope Michael weighs in. Because if this is just hitting today I’m not sure how much of a delayed reaction there is with his tool.

    Also checked the Moz tool but it’s delayed a couple days and does no really show local ranking flux, just # of results and # of one boxes.

  8. Oh and Mike some are reporting the change they are seeing is more spammy EMDs moving into the pack.

    Plus I’ve seen cases of 4 listings now, all different markets that I suspect were previously penalized and knocked out of the pack that just jumped back in, which knocked other listings out of the pack. (No 1st hand knowledge of these, just ones I noticed drop out awhile back and now they are back in.)

    So my very initial gut feeling is some type of penalty may have been lifted. (But I don’t really have enough evidence to know that – again, just gut observation.)

  9. @Mike, I have noticed a decrease in the spammy one boxes. The example I provided in your last article on the topic is “Austin Plumber” It now produces multiple pinned results similar to what was there before Hummingbird. Other examples have also been cleaned up. I will report back end of the week with some broader aggregated results.

  10. I think Google is still mainly fixing one off obviously spammy ones that get reported. But I’m not so sure they’ve rolled back the algo that caused this problem to begin with. They maybe finally tweaked it a tad but it’s still an issue. Hopefully with your help Mike they’ll finally get it under control.

  11. Few of the ones we were tracking have seemingly gone and we just tend to see a lot less one boxes this week.

    We could typically prospect for them and you do not have to do too many searches of “profession location” to find some garbage listings popping up.

    Part of me wondered if the policy change allowing a descriptive element to the name for places listings had anything to do with this as every spammer and his dog was using keyword + location names so it was giving a bit of ammo to the real folks. Seems utterly daft if that is the case but something stinks at the moment.

    We have seen a ton of changes this week though. Some folks we were tracking have shot from one end to another. Lots of movement up and down. Search results seem a bit different as well and it seems that some results are not localising or featuring packs of local results quite as much as before.

    Something has gone on this week (in the UK at least) it would seem.

    1. @Marcus

      Thanks for the confirmation on the Hummingbird Guano results. Your observation correlates with mine.

      Yes we have seen a lot of ups and downs this past week… interesting thought to relate it to the guideline change. That is entirely possible.

  12. Mike a new issue just came up at my forum, not sure if it’s an update or what yet – we are investigating.

    Anyway when researching this new issue, I discovered the SERP in question is spawning a good one-box example

    *Hate that spam is rewarded instead of penalized on Google Local!

    There are a LOT of Dentists in Newport Beach!

    Search for: Newport Beach Dentist

    The page that locks the rest of Dentists out is a little spammy.

    URL structure is: CityKW/ City/KW City mynewportbeachdental.com/newport-beach/dentist-newport-beach/

    Title tag spammy too with City & KW repeated 3 times: Newport Beach Dentist | Newport Dental Center | Dentist Newport Beach

    He who says Newport Beach Dentist the most times wins these days I guess. 🙁

  13. Hey Linda

    As a quick update from the UK we are seeing less of the dodgy one boxes than we used to BUT the same spammy listings often seem to still be visible at the top of 1, 3 or 7 packs .

    So, it’s not like they have gone away totally but they are just not boxing up any longer.

    Same sort of story – keyword business name, over (or under) optimised site, rampant keyword drivel etc.

    I am going to give up and become a gardener! 😉

    1. It would appear that the problem has a few more months of life left in it. Word is to use report a problem. Sort of like peeing in the ocean.

      It’s a good thing that the Atlantic is so big so that when we pee in it it can hold the excess

  14. Ha, well, you know, they have not ‘fixed’ it but they have at least ‘changed’ it so at least it is now a different problem (sort of). I guess, spammy pack listings are marginally better than spammy one boxes but still – if they want to deliver the best and most honest results to local users they are still a long way from that in many cases.

    They do say a change is as good as a holiday – is a change in Google as good as a fix?


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