Google’s De-Indexing Bug: Impact on Dealership Google My Business Listings

April 17, 2019
Google De-Indexing Bug Impact on Dealerships

By: Chris Tabb & Don Richards-Boeff

On April 5th, Google began removing website pages from the search results index due to a de-indexing bug. Some are calling this an update gone wrong — a patch designed to de-index spammy websites that went too far.

Google’s De-Indexing Bug: Impact on Dealership Google My Business Listings -

What hasn’t been reported on yet is the extent to which this bug impacted automotive Google My Business (GMB) listings. Before you start to worry, Google has reindexed the majority of pages and GMB performance is returning to normal. However, there are some things we want to make sure dealers know about the potential longer term impact of this bug.

Google De-indexing Bug - Google Analytics Screenshot

How Much of The Automotive Industry Was Impacted?

We have reviewed thousands of GMB accounts and identified a pattern. We estimate that 60% of car dealers experienced a decrease in GMB performance. On average, the impact for a GMB listing looked like this:

  • Map Impressions👇130% from the previous week
  • Search Impressions👇32% from the previous week
  • Website Clicks👇33% from the previous week
  • Phone Calls👇 35% from the previous week
  • Request Directions 👇38% from the previous week

What Did We Discover?

Google Search UX drives the majority of GMB Calls, Direction Requests and Website Clicks compared to Google Maps. How do we know this? Google Maps impressions decreased significantly between April 5th and April 11th, corresponding with the impact of de-indexed pages. At the same time, calls, direction requests, and website clicks remained fairly steady.

What Are We Watching?

GMB search impressions have and will continue to recover over the next week. Right now, the biggest area that we’re watching is map impressions. For some unknown reason, Google Maps saw the largest drop in impressions, and is still recovering at a slower, albeit steady, rate.

Based on our research and experience with search engine alignment, our theory is that the maps algorithm learns/indexes at a slower pace. It doesn’t allow newly indexed information to change search engine results pages (SERPs) as quickly. Because of that, we are going to keep an eye on GMB map listings to see if or how the de-indexing bug continues to skew results.

Google De-Indexing Bug Timeline

On April 5, 2019, Google’s index began dropping pages due to de-indexing bug. Google contained the de-indexing issue by Thursday April 11, 2019.

Auto industry listings were impacted at a much larger scale than previously reported:

  • Thousands of GMB listings show similar search and map impression patterns
  • Drop of Map impressions begins on April 5th
  • Brief sign of recovery on April 8th
  • Recovery accelerates on April 12th, but is cut short by normal down trend of activity on Sunday

Closing Thoughts

The PureCars’ SEAT product team manages Google My Business accounts at scale. This gives our teams unparalleled access to GMB trends shaping the automotive industry. As we see exciting trends and new issues, we will be sure to share our findings with you.


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