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Thread: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

  1. #1
    Broland's Avatar
    Broland is offline Member
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    Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    If you think you may have a local penalty I would like to hear about it. Mostly I just want the business NAP to test a few things. Once I have enough data to analyze I might have some things that are helpful to those with penalties.

    You can PM me with the info, and it will of course remain confidential and never be posted. I'm not looking for Penguin penalties, I've worked with those quite a bit but this is something different.

    UPDATE FROM LINDA: THE HACK BELOW NO LONGER WORKS - GOOGLE SHUT THE DOOR.
    Last edited by Linda Buquet; 02-08-2015 at 07:52 PM.

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    Broland's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    Thanks for all the PM's so far. I will check them all, I may not respond to each of them for some time though.

  4. #3
    Colan Nielsen's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    Sounds interesting, Broland.

    Looking forward to some findings.
    Colan Nielsen l GMB Top Contributor
    Vice President, Local Search at Sterling Sky
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    Broland's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    So I've been using this method for a while to check and verify, at least in some cases, that a Google business listing is suffering from a penalty and being filtered out of search results.

    If you search only Google Places (add &tbm=plcs to URL string) with results set to 100 (add &num=100&as_qdr= to URL string), you get the local results that blend into regular search without some or all penalty filters applied.

    This can save a ton of time, guessing and waiting when troubleshooting local ranking issues. I would love to get more feedback from other people using it to try to determine what different penalties or violations are not filtered using this. So far it seems like mostly duplicate listings, I have seen some that seem to be something else, but it can be time consuming checking out business listings you don't know much about. Here's an example screenshot comparison for 'seattle chiropractor' and you can see the full article write up at the link below.
    Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties-google-places-penalized-results.jpg


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    Deckard64 (05-07-2014),Linda Buquet (04-10-2014),Margaret Ornsby (04-16-2014),Phil Rozek (04-20-2014),RobinOctane (04-24-2014),Scott Rawlins (04-10-2014),spainops (04-16-2014),Travis Van Slooten (04-10-2014)

  7. #5
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
    Linda Buquet is online now Community Leader - Google Local Specialist
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    OMG Broland. This is a VERY important discovery. To me at least since I do so much troubleshooting. I can often spot what I "think" is a penalty but it's so hard to prove it is for sure.

    I had a new consult come in just last night I'm going to test this on in a few and I'll let you know what happens. As soon as I checked the listing I spotted what I thought was causing the penalty but some would argue this particular thing does not cause a penalty. This will help be prove it.

    Now as far as the reasoning for the Seattle penalties I have some observations to share.

    In this post: Google Local Algo Change or Did Spam Filters Get Dropped? I mentioned that I think some penalties were dropped or loosened.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that around this time I also noticed listings with dupes that normally would have knocked them out of the pack, ranking.

    So I don't think rvchiro is a dupe penalty per se. I mean I agree if you confuse the algo you can drop but if she can figure out the dupe these days I don't think you necessarily always get knocked out.

    My take on rvchiro is proximity radius and I could prove it if I'd saved screenshots.

    See the realworld example I share here: Google+ Local Centroid - NOT City Center! Affects Ranking!

    So with rvchiro - the centroid is downtown seattle and north. RV is WAY south and normally locked out for that reason. If you look at the small map in the SERPS today their area of town does not even show on the map. They are cut off below it.

    HOWEVER I have seen RV rank in the A spot a few times. But every time they did it's because the radius zoomed way out. Far enough that their listing would be considered part of the mix.

    Abrams not sure, have not tuned into that one much. But looking at it quickly ya they have 7 Dr dupes all going to home page. That will knock you out.

    Thanks Broland so much for sharing. Off to try this on the new consult I just got and will let you know if it works. I'm highly suspecting it will!
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    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon". ;-)

  8. #6
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    OMG OMG, I am so excited! Wish I could share this example as it's the clearest example to prove Broland's theory is correct. (But I can't because I'm referring this Dentist to a friend of mine so don't want to share the Dental listing publicly.)

    But I can lay it out really clearly without sharing the listing.

    This Dentist is totally in the radius and has no dupes.

    He ranks #4 organic and #3 in maps. So my gut said he should be ranking C or D in the pack.

    But he came to me because he's never been able to get into the pack and is sitting below it in organic.

    Well he has city 3 times in description because city is in his name.

    His description is kinda like "Looking for a Dallas dentist? Dallas Dental Spa is your Dallas dentist office!"

    I was sure in my gut that was causing a penalty. But could not be sure.

    I ran Broland's Google Places 100 Search and it is CLEAR AS DAY!!!

    This Dr is at D - right where I thought he should be. Every other listing in the pack is in the exact same order in "the 100" except that he's squeezed in at C moving the lower ones down.


    Now what still leaves a question mark in my mind is that I assumed Google had loosened that city description penalty after looking at the A SPOT for Seattle Chiro because THEY have Seattle something like 18 times in the description.

    But I have a suspicion. Based on the length of this new consult's description, I'm going to guess he may still be in the old dashboard. So maybe the penalty is still live for the old 200 char descriptions, but is not a factor in the new unlimited G+ descriptions??? Not sure. But if we get this Dr for a consult we'll be able to check his dash to see for sure.

    Score a big one for Broland!
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    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon". ;-)

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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    This is awesome work Broland. What a discovery and a great way to see the whole picture if you've been penalized. Thank you!

  11. #8
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    Big Thanks Broland. Going to dig into this now....

  12. #9
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    ​The OTHER exciting thing about Broland's discovery is this would be a very good predictive tool as well I think. (Not that I'd ever tell a client, we think we can get you in the C spot.)

    But seriously IF it's the description and when he fixes IF he pops like most do. And IF nothing else changes in the meantime. I think C is exactly where he'll land.

    Then with some other tweaks and especially on-site tweaks we are going to do I think he could maybe move up to B or C.

    In initial free consults you "could" say to someone like this

    "According to my calculations, if you didn't have this penalty, right now you should be sitting right around the D spot."

    So if we can help you get this penalty cleared hopefully that's where you'll be and with other improvements who knows. Our goal would be to get you higher if at all possible."


    I mean you really would need to be careful about setting those expectations. By the time he gets back in pack the algo could change or 2 competitors could work hard a leap frog him so there is really no telling. BUT for your own knowledge and goals I think it's helpful to see where he would/should be if it were not for the penalty.
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    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

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    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon". ;-)

  13. #10
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    re: Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

    Broland, Joy from Imprezzio just asked me why you are doing Places Search 100 instead of Places Search 10. I just did a quick check of the Dentist and the results are the same for both, with one difference.
    Have not checked Seattle Chiro yet with Places Search 10. But we just realized what the rationale was?
    Is Our Content HELPFUL? Please pay the community back by sharing!

    LocalSearchForumLinda Buquet .:. Google Local Specialist

    Consulting, Troubleshooting & White Label Services for SEOs & Agencies

    Don't Miss Important News & Tips! SUBSCRIBE to Daily Email Digest Here

    Are you a PRO? Join the "Local Search Pros" G+ Community!

    Note: Due to mulitple RSI injuries, pardon short replies. Typos? Blame it on "Dragon". ;-)

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