Google Removes SEOs from Local One Pack in Search Results

Dec 31, 2009 • 7:48 am | comments (19) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

In an updated Google Maps Help thread, Joel H. from Google said Google has dropped most of the local results in the Google web search pages for SEO and Web Design related queries. Yes, you heard me right - Google has decided to intentionally not show a local pack for queries that are related to SEO or web design and include a local qualifier. Example searches include [web design 10010], [web design suffern], [seo 90210], [new york seo companies] and so on.

Google first removed web designers from the local pack in November. Then they claimed it was a bug related to a fix for an Orlando Dodge dealership, but that is not true, according to Joel.

Yesterday, Joel from Google said:

Earlier thread, Brian (BB- baseonballs) [a Googler, btw] noted that this may be related to a known issue regarding the display of local search results on After further investigation, they are slightly different, and I'll explain our intent.

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.

I'll give the usual disclaimer that we're constantly working on improving the user experience and results will vary over time. So, this could change in the future, but I wanted to be explicit about what we're doing today.

Yea, Joel said that. Of course, the logical thoughts by SEOs on this matter is that Google really does hate SEOs. This may be the last Google vs. SEOs controversy of 2009.

Forum discussion at Google Maps Help.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: December 30, 2009


David Dalka

12/31/2009 03:14 pm

I'm going to take the optimists view on this one. Hopefully it's a beta test to remove ALL local packs in 2010 because the data is often wrong, spammed, poorly prioritized and in this economy full of closed businesses with dead phone numbers. The pessimist in me says they won't remove it because the experience is so unpleasant that it forces people to click on pay per click ads. :(


12/31/2009 04:03 pm

Well, it's obvious they don't like them. Just my opinion but "pay per click management houston" still has the local listing, i don't think they would shut off their cash cow now would they?

Scott Clark

12/31/2009 06:52 pm

I find this disturbing. If I have a physical location in a given area, offer a service to customers in that area that is close to their query, then onebox listings should appear as they do for other creative-class industries. I know for a fact that some webmasters abuse the one-box. They produce farms of websites for a given area and then spray the local listings. For example, one metro area in my area currently shows a Phoenix-area SEO firm as a local listing... complete with its own landing page and "local feel."

Richard Burckhardt

12/31/2009 07:09 pm

Amazing how Google has wined and dined SEOs at events like the Google Dance, yet they obviously hate us? Both sides of the mouth, so to speak...

dr jimmy

12/31/2009 08:56 pm

it will affect the adsense user


01/01/2010 08:22 am

Some local results are spammed to death anyway. The more competitive search terms have "company names" which are keyword stuffed which are in clear violation of the Google guidelines. Maybe if Google actually responded to users' reports of the keyword spamming the local results would actually be vaguely relevant in the first place.

Christophe BENOIT

01/02/2010 08:02 am

In France, we do not see this limitations. Locals results are not stuffed with spam nor used massively.

Allan Duncan

01/03/2010 04:47 am

"seo dubai" still shows local listings.

No Name

01/04/2010 04:25 am

Sounds a bit discriminatory to me. How can Google make these choices. Is this not a democracy?

No Name

01/04/2010 04:40 am

The G shows the Local pack for all the indian cities with the word 'SEO' or "Web design". I think they are remove the local pack only for US cities.


01/04/2010 12:53 pm

Local pack listings are not just removed for US cities even its not showing for UK as well. Sigh!!

Bill Sebald

01/04/2010 02:48 pm

> We believe this is an accurate representation of user intent. I'm all for their interest in balancing for user intent - it's their business, their product - but I'm missing the logic here.


01/04/2010 03:45 pm

What I want to know, maybe rustybrick an run a poll on how many SEOs rely on the pack for online leads? If not many then why care :) Google will always try to control what their users see...whether they say it or not.


01/05/2010 01:42 am

Looks like local web hosting isn't listed either. I suppose, Google thinks that if someone searches for a "Boston web hosting company" their intent is not to host locally? ----- Puh-lease - I wonder what the real reason is for their removal...


01/05/2010 10:20 pm

The addition of the word "in" renders Google map results with local business listings. Small consolation.. or not that small when you remember how many users still type longer tail phrases using this and other prepositions.


01/06/2010 11:05 pm

it's not a complete wipe-out of all instances. and we're supposed to be experts at ranking so what the #*$@ does it matter if it's with a pretty little map or not? Get over it people. Stop whining. It's irrelevant. Proves nothing about our industry other than we're a bunch of whiners.

No Name

01/07/2010 03:28 am

@AlanBleiweiss: If it's true that G is omitting SEO companies from the 7-packs, it could conceivably mean that other anti-SEO steps could be taken. Nobody said it proves anything - it's just something to keep an eye on.

No Name

01/07/2010 05:39 am

Even I don't see any changes in results, maybe google is working on it and trying to see whats reaction they will get by SEOs. (not sure)

Lyndsay Walker

02/06/2010 05:24 am

It's back for me! "winnipeg web design" showed me local results within the organic listings, when it hadn't just a few days ago.

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