Crackdown on Service-Area Businesses: the Untold Story of Google’s Local “Pigeon” Update?

Like my post? Please share!


Since the “Pigeon” algorithm update last week, we’ve seen a decline in Google Places 7-pack results, plus local rankings reshuffled at least a little bit in most markets.

Has all that commotion covered up a crackdown by Google on service-area businesses (businesses, like contractors, that travel to customers rather than the other way around)?

I’m beginning to think so.

One long-time client of mine suddenly got the red light on a residential (and properly “hidden”) address.

Then I post on Linda’s forum, and hear the same thing from other people.

Then Holly Pedit emails me to say Google has put the kibosh on all her service-area clients.

I know Google isn’t penalizing all – or necessarily even many – residential or service-area businesses.  The question is whether they’re whacking more of them than usual.

Does your business operate in a “service area,” and has your Google Places page been suspended in the last week?


  1. So the two jokers now outranking me for “seo pleasanton ca” both have hidden residential addresses

  2. avatar Susan Staupe says

    I so want to post “A pigeon just pooped on my local listing!” . . .is that so wrong?

  3. avatar Holly Pedit says

    Thanks Phil,
    I read through the comment’s on Linda’s forum and am glad to hear I am not the only one seeing this. Yes they all have properly hidden addresses and have not been edited too often.

    Found this –
    Basically they are saying you have to “set a service area.” (Which was already done).

    “What’s changed?

    If you previously used the old Places for Business dashboard, you’ll notice that we no longer have the Do not show my business address on my Maps option. We will apply the correct address settings for your business based on your choices from the new dashboard and the nature of your business.

    Note: Some verified businesses will require another round of verification for changes in address.”


  4. Hi Phil,

    I know we’ve been talking about this at my forum since the 24th, when you 1st brought it up. But the timing correlation with the update didn’t hit me til now.

    Holy just joined my forum so I can only assume she’s coming to weigh in on your thread there.

    Thanks for bringing this up although I have to say, other than the couple reports at my forum I’m not hearing much noise. No uptick on this type of problem that I can see.

    In fact one guy on G+ was saying the opposite. He’s seeing all these new listings ranking in the pack that are home based that he never had seen rank before.

    Who knows! This Pigeon crap has me so frustrated. Just added some new observations in post #87 of my long Pigeon thread. But so far nothing matches up, adds up or makes any sense at all.

    The SEland post indicated this was more about organic ranking signals but in many packs the top 2 listings have NO site and only an UNCLAIMED G+ L page. So organic factors don’t factor. (And it does not seem to be pure location or citations either. And not reviews because none of them have reviews either.) So just frustrating!

    • Thanks, Linda.

      Yeah, it’s hard to say what’s going on. It may very well be just coincidence. And most of my clients whose rankings have changed in the last week are doing better post-Pigeon than before.

    • Linda, I am seeing some of that no site stuff as well. One of the guys who outranks me for SEO in Pleasanton has a site that has “under construction” on the home page

  5. Holy saw you join the forum and was hoping you’d post.

    If you can share what you shared above I have some Qs to ask you. Other things it could be.

  6. Holy posted at your thread at my forum and I just asked her a bunch of important Qs to try to troubleshoot. (Sorry, easier for me to go back and forth, post screenshots or links if needed there.)

    Once I get her answers may have a better idea what’s up, but not enough info to go on til then.

  7. avatar Holly Pedit says

    Copied from forum so you can put this to rest if you want. Thanks for the action .
    Was just on the phone with support. The man I spoke to had no idea about the update but when he spoke to his supervisor the answer was “we are aware of an issue with the area-based algorithm.”

    I think they know about it and will try to work it out. Or have. Because now I am seeing them again when I search for lawn care. However while in the dashboard and hit “View Business on Google “Google Search” the business is not there. Probably my bad, or something that will work itself out.
    Thanks and sorry to be so alarmed? I first noticed it 2 days ago and last checked it before I sent you the email.


  1. Crackdown on residential addresses for Service Area Businesses?

    Phil just posted about this with more details. Crackd…

  2. […] local SEO Phil Rozek, amongst others, has reported that part of the release may have been a bug that suspended the Google My Business listings for service-area businesses. According to Holly Pedit of Tri-Cities SEO, Google Local Support is “aware of an issue with […]

  3. […] one legit page at the same address).   That’s what Google temporarily – and I now know accidentally – did to a couple of my clients last month.  […]

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.