If you follow local SEO, you know that keyword stuffing the GMB Name is one of the most common black hat tactics used to better populate in the local pack. Many businesses add relevant keywords to their GMB business title because there are little ramifications. Just look at Ben Fisher’s Tweet, which showcases how bad it’s gotten. Every business nowadays is either naming their company based on keywords (Example: ER Near Me) or adding it directly into their GMB name, even when it’s not the actual name of their business. Google Searches like the one you are seeing below are the norm now [Picture courtesy of Joy Hawkins Tweet].
Google greatly rewards businesses with keywords in their GMB Name [View Moz’s local ranking factors]. One would think Google would want to combat keyword stuffing on GMB so the most relevant businesses populate in the local pack, which would result in a better search experience. Of course, this has not been a priority of Google. Colan Nielsen did an amazing job showcasing 50 Examples of GMB Keyword Stuffing, which identified how easy it is to get away with stuffing keywords in the GMB Name. Below are three key takeaways from his case study:
- Google has no way of algorithmically catching this so violators of this guideline are only punished if someone catches them and reports them.
- Google has let a business add keywords back to its name on GMB as many as 8 times after being removed, without taking any kind of action such as a warning or soft suspension.
- Google applied a soft suspension to GMB listings that repeatedly add keywords to their name 20% of the time.
What if Google had a way of algorithmically catching violators? This is exactly what I’m proposing:
Resolution: Devalue the relevance of GMB Pages where the keywords in the GMB Name match keywords within the search query.
I’m no mathematician or algorithm expert but let’s say Google is awarding points for each local ranking factor. The more points you get, the better chance you have of ranking in the local pack. Below is an estimate on how they are awarding points:
- GMB Name: 3 Points
- Business Category: 3 Points
- Proximity: 2 Points
- Reviews: 2 Points
- On-Page Signals: 2 Points
If you were to do a search for “Columbus Door Installation,” if any of the keywords within the search query matched the GMB business title, you’d receive -1 point per keyword match. You can see in the example below how this would work. The company, “Columbus Door Sales,” would receive -2 points. “Columbus” and “Door” are two separate keywords within the query that match the GMB Business Name. The beauty of this local algorithm is that there are plenty of other ranking factors at play, which are more legitimate than the GMB Title. Even if your business name legitimately has keywords within its GMB title, receiving -1 or -2 points will not knock you out of the local pack as there are plenty of other factors at play. In my opinion, this sort of local algorithm would provide better local search results, which is something Google should be striving for. If things don’t change, don’t be surprised to find a “Top Funeral Home Near Me” in your local market.