UPDATE: based on the many thoughtful and intelligent comments below, I'm downgrading my recommendation to Google to simply stop putting so much weight on the business name as a ranking signal. I can see that there are some benefits to using it in the algorithm.

My main complaint is that you can go into GMB and add a keyword to the business name and see an immediate and significant increase in rankings. That shows me that Google is giving this signal too much power.

I recommend reading through the excellent comments below.

 

Notice anything interesting in the screenshot below?

All of these results have some synonym of "bellevue dentist" in the business name.

The business name is one of the strongest local ranking factors and it's starting to piss me off.

 

Question:

Which business deserves to rank higher in the local search results for the term “seattle plumbing”?

Business Name

Links

Citations

Reviews

Pipe Masters, Inc.

High quality, no spam.

100% consistent. Listed on the top sites.

Plenty of positive reviews.

Seattle Plumbing Pros

Mostly directory links and blog comments.

Inconsistent and way overdone.

A handful of spammy looking positive reviews, and a few real looking negative reviews.


Of course, Pipe Masters, Inc. should rank higher, but because of the heavy ranking weight Google puts on the business name, Seattle Plumbing Pros would be more likely to rank, and Pipe Masters, Inc. won’t even break into the local pack.

The example above is fictitious, but back in the days of the descriptors, we saw many examples where keywords in the business name had a huge impact on rankings. You’d add the descriptor, and they’d jump from position 32 in Maps to position B in the local pack. Now, they’re stripping descriptors automatically, and when that happens, the rankings tank.

 

Google, Here's a Quick Fix

Hey Google, I have a suggestion. Rather than bother with all this descriptor stripping, just stop using the business name in the local ranking algorithm. It’s a stupid factor to consider anyway. Just because a business happens to have keywords in their business name doesn’t mean they’re a better business to rank for the term.

If you stopped using the business name, you’d eliminate the problem of people spamming this field, and you’d get better results because REAL businesses that have non-keyword stuffed names would be able to surface into the local pack.

Come on. Just do it. Please? Otherwise, this is gonna be me the next time I see a local pack crammed with keyword spammed business names, and you wouldn't want that, would you?


What do you think? Should Google stop using the business name as a local ranking factor?