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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google to SEO’s, Designers & Advertising Agents: You are Off the Map!

Yesterday, Google’s Joel H has definitively confirmed that, at least in the whole of the US, Canada & the UK, they are no longer showing the 7 Pack on queries for Web Designers, Graphic Design, SEOs or Advertising Agents when paired with the City & ST.

According to Google, the searches lack sufficient local intent and their being missing is by design not by mistake. What strikes an odd chord for me though is that these very same queries, when paired with cities in Australia, China, Russia, Mexico and Hong Kong, do return the 7-Pack.

Today, we’re intentionally showing less local results for web design / SEO queries. For example, [web design sacramento] doesn’t display local listings today. We believe this is an accurate representation of user intent. In some cases, we do show local listings, however (as NSNA/php-er noted) [web design in bellingham]. I’m sure some of you feel we should be displaying local results for queries like [Web Design Vancouver]. I understand that concern, but based on our understanding of our users, we feel this is the right decision for now.

The issue has been in evidence since early November and had been noted in both the map and webmaster forums (here, here, here & here) as well as in a previous post on this blog.

On November 11, when Google initially responded publicly to the issue, they indicated that the missing 7 Paks was the flip side of the OneBox frequency problem that they had just fixed. Google employee Brian B posted:

This looks like it’s closely related to the issue going on at the thread I’ve linked below. We realize there’s something going on here, and we initially pushed out a fix a while back. There was a little hiccup with the fix, which is probably why the results in Fresno may have gone back up and then back down as addoctane mentioned above.

The team is working on this issue. Stay tuned to the thread below where I will post an update as soon as I hear one.

However, on 12/14 Google Employee Brian noted in a different thread than above:

That said, it looks like a lot of the recent search examples on this thread have to do with web design, SEO, and other services of that sort. It’s possible that instead of being related to the original issue, doesn’t bring up map results for these types of searches because the search term doesn’t show much local intent. In other words, there’s not enough local information in the query for Google to trigger maps results on Searches for the same terms on, however, do bring up results.

The situation brings up more than one question…

1-Is it conceivable that there is local intent for the search “Advertsing Agency Hong Kong” but not in the search “Advertising Agency NY, NY”
2-Why are these types of searches not showing results in the US, Canada & England but are showing 7 pack in most other countries including (but not limited to) Mexico, Australia, Russia, Germany & Chins.
3-One presumes that Google has the ability to ascertain searcher intent on a city by city, search by search basis. Is that not the case? Is it really possible that there would be no cases of measurable local searcher intent for phrases like graphic designer, web designer, seo, advertising agent & marketing firm in any US city?

And on the PR side, one has to ask:

5-Why does Google take so long to respond to these sorts of issues?
6- And when they do finally respond, why do they provide such a limited answer that seems contradictory?

One supposes that Google has the right to show what they want, when the want on their search engine. That being said, do they not owe the SEO, design and advertising communities both more timely and more thorough answers to these sorts of questions?