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Thread: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Question Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

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    CAN YOU RANK AT TOP OF THE PACK, EVEN WITH AN ORGANIC PENALTY?

    YES YOU CAN!

    OK so... everyone wrongly assumes and keeps saying that the Pigeon algo is more about traditional organic ranking factors. But here is a case where you have an organic ranking penalty. But still ranks in the A spot. Typically to rank high in the pack, you also need a high organic ranking.

    So this pretty much proves that Pigeon is not only about organic ranking factors.
    It's not just about organic, there are many other local factors in the mix. However organic is normally very important - this just shows you can still rank in local even with an organic penalty.

    I wanted to share an interesting case I was working on at the Google Webmaster forum. I think this has come up once or twice here at our forum, but this is such a good example that I wanted to share.

    Here are comments/theories thrown around between Ashley, a very sharp Top Contributor at the Google Webmaster forum and myself.

    Want to share some of the theories too and see what YOU think!

    Still violating quality guidelines after link removal - Google Webmaster Forum

    Arron talks about an organic penalty and shows messaging he's gotten from Google, so we know he has some type of organic penalty.

    I searched for the main KW from his title tag + city: Swimming pool builder Omaha, NE
    Didn't find him in the top 5 pages, but didn't take time to check further.

    Like I said, we've discussed this before, but I think it was pre-Pigeon.

    Here are some theories Ashley and I discussed. Wonder what you think???

    T H E O R I E S

    Linda - So this pretty much proves that Pigeon is not only about organic ranking factors.

    Ashley - Maybe. It can also say that Pigeon may be an algorithm that is not running on the same frequency as the algorithm that pulled his site down in main ranking too, right?

    Ashley - My *very limited* view is that the local algorithms may lower the importance of some factors, and heighten the importance of others. So the factors that are more important in the main algorithm may be of lesser value in the 7-pack. Competition is of course also very different. Conjecture, of course.

    Linda - That's a good point too and possible. But I've seen it a lot and for sites that we believe have had an organic penalty for a long time. So me and others that have speculated feel like somehow the local algo just does not see or excludes the organic penalty somehow.

    But of course that's all just conjecture and yes it varies and always depends in part on the competition. Totally agree.

    Ashley - That would be interesting if some organic penalties only affected some organic search results (and not local). I wonder if so, if it's by design or a little whoopsy.

    FYI Ashley is one smart cookie!

    So what do you think?

    What's your theory???



    EDITED TO ADD: I found the other post and WOW it's an eye opener.
    Google Pigeon Forgives Penguin Penalties???
    See the part about the local penalty buffer!


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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    Very interesting. I am eager to hear what others might think is happening.
    Scott Rawlins - Find Local Company in Atlanta GA
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    I found the other post:

    Google Pigeon Forgives Penguin Penalties???

    WOW it's an eye-opener. Can't believe I forgot about that one! I mean, I knew we'd discussed but forgot about all the details.

    Joshua Macken said:

    Unbeknownst to almost the entire local SEO community it seems, Penguin actually doesn’t affect the local search results. The local pack seems to act like a buffer against it. Which is extremely odd as you would think Google would make sure anyone caught by Penguin was banished from all ability to rank well.

    The “buffer” we’re talking about means that if you were penalized by Penguin and took a death drop to the bottom of the red section (organic), you would still survive in the green section (local pack). Odd, right?
    Read on at the link above for more!
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    Thanks for sharing Linda as this is a case I hadn't seen before.

    I have assumed - I know, I know...dont assume - that ever since the Pigeon update, the Local Map Pack was operating under a different sort of Algorithm. Now, maybe as Ashley stated, Pigeon isnt updating at the same frequency as the other algorithms. If what Ashley is saying regarding lowering importance of some factors and increasing other factors, wouldnt that be the same as a new sort of Algorithm?

    It seems obvious to me that the Local Pack is operating under different terms than Organic search as the Map Pack continues to list spammy, fake listings and the Organic looks much cleaner than before. The Local Pack is also based more on distance, relevance, intent, citations and reviews than the Organic which still takes into account unique content and links moreso than Local.
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    We've had clients rank in the pack after we set up a GMB page for them, and were still working on cleaning up penalties. It was pre-pigeon though. Interesting to see that its still not looking at organic penalties!
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    Hurricane K8
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    Thanks for weighing in Brian and Kate!

    Ray Rod just weighed in at the Local Search Pros Community:

    I had this situation happened 3 years ago with a lawyer in a big city.. They were ranking and stuck in D spot for a very high competitive keyword and their website had a manual penalty and a lot of spammy links. Their site was page 8-9 in the organic results. Once we were able to track a lot of the spammy links and remove the manual penalty, the website started to move slowly back up. Sometime later after a lot of work the site went back to page 1 organic and their listing went to B spot
    Anyone else with thoughts or experiences to share?
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    This could be why every once in a while I see someone rankings A-B-C in the pack and nowhere in organic! I thought maybe the search phrase was pulling a different algo. This makes alot more sense.

    This COULD be another example (I say "could" because I don't know that there's a penalty for sure):
    https://www.google.ca/?gws_rd=ssl#q=...io+real+estate

    If you look at JoanBall.com, the site is B but not anywhere in organic. Then if you go to the link profile it looks like they've been cleaning up a bunch of backlinks since last year (59 pages to 17). This could indicate unnatural link patterns being cleaned up, but again-- Im not 100% sure if this is what's happening in this case.
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    Hurricane K8
    Leavens Auto Group (London, Orillia, Chatham - Ontario,Canada)

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    Ya looks like they've done some link clean up.

    See this: https://www.removeem.com/ratios.php?...&submit=submit

    Almost any company would naturally have at least a couple "City Keyword" anchors.
    Here's are stripped clean to just her name and related anchors.
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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    Linda:

    I've had sites that had organic penalties and still had top pac rankings. More than one.

    The sites were old. The sites had a lot of old anchor text links from nondescript directories from a long long time ago. That was google's issue.

    Organic penalties were primarily against those specific anchor text phrases. Had to disavow them all. Had to keep doing it and doing it and doing it.

    Meanwhile there were a lot of top of PAC rankings. Organic and PAC: there is overlap, but there are also differences.

    As businesses we want traffic every way we can get it. We want it from the PAC, we want it from organic, we want it from the long tail, we want it from adwords (if it doesn't cost an arm and a leg).

    All traffic is good, but some is better. Some is very logical and on target with potential buying intent. Some might be lookers, or some might be buyers.

    You might need to employ a DUI attorney immediately. A high PAC listing is invaluable. You might be interested in dance lessons, but there is no immediacy to it. All kinds of visibility is helpful including of course a PAC listing.

    Anyway we had a variety of cases with penalties applied to various organic phrases while high PAC rankings remained. After we cleaned up the google penalties we had both. Before we cleaned up the organic side we still had the high PAC rankings.

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    re: Ranking #1 in the Local 7 Pack - Even Though Panda or Penguin Penalty?

    WilliamHarvey, a Level 10 @ the Webmaster Forum just weighed in with this:

    Most sites that I've seen sites hit with Penguin and Manual link penalties that have stayed within the 7 pack.

    Only when they start to disavow their back links they sometimes drop out. So for me the drop mostly occurs when you start removing/disavowing links. It's kind of a catch 22 situation.
    So if the site gains most of their traffic from local then they need to seriously consider the effects of removing link to overcome SERP penalties.

    But there are also times when you receive a manual penalty (not penguin) and drop from the local pack at the same time. And I can only put that down to a trust filter which Google have started dishing out. And the OP has posted this above:
    Be considered to be less trustworthy than sites that follow the quality guidelines
    Personally I think algorithmic penalties have no effect on the local pack, but they pick up on the signals - links. And manual comes down to the type of manual penalty you get.

    I have a good handle on local but I'm no way an expert. Someone that's worked with multiple more sites than myself may see different patterns.
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