Is Google broken? Where’s the relevancy for local business listings?

I’m finding some curious search results this week when searching for local business listings, and I want to know if you’ve found anything similar in your recent searches. It’s only happened in the last few weeks, since the most recent undocumented updates. Instead of improving the search process, these updates seem to have broken Google.

I haven’t researched this problem too deeply yet, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else is finding the same results.

The trouble happens when you do a local search for a business. I’m using the Google AdWords Ad Preview Tool to get an accurate picture of location. I put Melbourne in as my location, as usual, and then do a search for “plumbers”.

Google should show me pages and pages of Melbourne plumbers, but on page two it begins to show businesses from Sydney and Queensland. The same thing happens when I type in “plumbers emergency”, only on an even more skewed basis. The first result I get is for a Sydney plumber. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’ve got a plumbing emergency in Melbourne, I’m not going to look for a plumber who’s nine hundred kilometres away!

I’ve done searches for electricians, SEO professionals and even carpet layers, and I’m still getting the same results. Google is no longer showing relevant local results for any business I’ve searched for. None of this is helpful for the user, and it does no good for the businesses that have their listings shown to customers who won’t use them. I don’t know what’s going on with Google lately, but it’s high time that it fixed its system. If you’ve come across the same results in your area, please let me know. I’m still researching this, and can use all the data I can find.

This article was first published on the StewArt Media website

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.

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