Fluke Business Name for Top Spot in Google+Local Results?

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(Update, 7/2: the business names seem to be back to normal; see comments section for more detail.)

Dino Basaldella from Sonoma County Web has asked me a puzzling question:

Why do some business that rank #1 in the Google+Local results have names that don’t reflect either their Google+Local names or their title tags?

For example:

The name of the #1 business is “All Phase Concrete.”  That’s the name of their Google+Local page.

But that’s not the name that’s showing up in Google’s search results, as you can see.  The names that show up for businesses #2-7 exactly match the names of those businesses’ Google+Local pages.

That’s the first oddity: why is the #1 spot treated differently?

The other oddity is it’s not their title tag that’s being shown in Google’s search results – which since late 2010 Google has often used instead of the name of a business’s Google listing.  The title tag of the homepage does NOT say “Phase Concrete”:

Nowhere on AllPhaseConcrete.com does it say “Phase Concrete.”  The footer reads:

Allphase Concrete
1440 Russel Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95403

This isn’t an isolated case.  Dino also pointed it out to me about a week ago.  You’ll see the same thing if you type in “Santa Rosa automotive repair” or “Orlando automotive repair” (for example) and look at how the #1 listing is named.

I’m stumped as to what’s going on here.

I know about Google’s policy of occasionally modifying how title tags appear in the search results.

But if that’s the case here, I’d like to know why (1) it’s only the #1 spot that seems to be having its title tag displayed in the search results rather than its Google+Local business name, and (2) why it’s being modified in a way that doesn’t make it any more relevant to the search term typed in (e.g. “Santa Rosa concrete service”).

Dino wasn’t signed into his Google account when he noticed this, nor was I when I checked on these results myself.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens if/when a different business is ranked #1, because that business will then probably have its name tinkered-with by Google and the current #1 business will go back to having its Google+Local name displayed in the search results.

Have you seen this before?  It seems new to me, though maybe I’m missing something.

How do you think Google is generating the business names it displays for these #1 spots, exactly?  Can you see any rhyme or reason?

Why only the #1 listing?

Am I just missing something?

If you don’t have any more intel than I do, please speculate!

Comments

  1. Hey Phil,
    Thanks for putting this informative post together – great job!
    I would like to provide an update regarding the odd behavior we were seeing in the name field for businesses in the number 1 position of Google Local results:
    I ran the same search query this morning and the results were far different. My client, All Phase Concrete remains in the number one position, however, a snippet from the page title is now being utilized – as opposed to the malformed business name we saw last week.
    In the case of my automotive repair shop client, the business name is now visible – as opposed to the website url appearing where the business name should have been.
    I think it would safe to assume the quirky and inconsistent results we were seeing can be attributed to Google’s constant algo-tweaking, rather than an inconsistency/error in on-page optimization or how related user profiles (e.g. Google+, Places, Local, etc.) are currently configured.
    Dino Basaldella
    Sonoma County Web

    • Hey Dino,

      No problem. Thanks for the great intel! I wonder how many of these cases I – and other people – passed by but didn’t notice.

      It’s still puzzling that Google is using your client’s title tag for his business name in the search results, but still using the Google+Local page business names for #2-7. Any time Google gives exceptions like this, I scratch my head.

      Good call about it just being an algo tweak. That does seem to be the case here.

      Please let me know if you notice anything else that’s weird / hard to explain!

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