Hack to Check for Google Local Penalties

Broland

Forum Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
136
Likes
84
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.
<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content=""><meta property="og:description" content=""><meta property="og:image" content="">
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Broland

Forum Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
136
Likes
84
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.
 

Broland

Forum Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
136
Likes
84
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.


 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
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!
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
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!
 
Joined
Sep 11, 2013
Messages
44
Likes
7
This is awesome work Broland. What a discovery and a great way to see the whole picture if you've been penalized. Thank you!
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
​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.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
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?
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2013
Messages
781
Likes
412
I am seeing different results with the 10 and the 100. The 100 search pops two other businesses into the #3 and #5 in Local and my client is sitting at #6. In the 10 search My client pops into #4 and the other two pop out. My client is sitting at #7 organic. These other two businesses, that were sitting at #3 and #5 in the 100 search are at +50 and +70 doing a regular search. Now, what is it that all three of these have in common...??

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?
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
One important thing to note and Joy spotted this one.

When you do Place search 10 vs 50 the map radius on that page zooms out to a wider area. If you do Place search 100 I assume it's even wider except the map disappears and appears to be borked for us past 50. But I was pretty sure the 1st time I tried Place search 100 there was a map. But now there is not.

But Justin I too noticed slightly different results so we are still trying to figure out anything that might be significant.
 

Broland

Forum Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
136
Likes
84
You can see that the rvchiro is what I think is a dupe penalty if you search their phone number in Google Maps (classic view is better www.google.com/maps?q=&output=classic ), you will see another listing with the same phone, same address and a pretty close match on the business name. I'm quite confident if they were to flip the order of that business name to have the Doctor name first and then the practice it would clear up this issue and if they have no other problems they would pop into the pack.

If someone from rvchiro reads this, the bill is in the mail. ;)

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?
To hack Google of course. :D No really, I originally started doing it because it is a more efficient way to check results without having to click through pages... that and utilizing data for my own custom tools. I'm not sure that is what you are asking though, so this below may help...

The trick to show results without the filter applied only works when results are set to 100. If you simply search Google Places (&tbm=plcs) with 10 results you will get the same exact results that get blended into the pack. It is very rare, but if you do get some type of discrepancy between a Places 10 and the pack results in a regular search it is likely because of something like different data centers or updates propagating at different times.

So you can simply compare the Places 10 and Places 100 results to see the difference with filtered out results. Also, if you are tying out URL's all you really need to add for 100 is &num=100 but Google at times has caused that to break to combat scrapers so adding the time portion of the URL string &as_qdr= is a known fix for that.

I am seeing different results with the 10 and the 100. The 100 search pops two other businesses into the #3 and #5 in Local and my client is sitting at #6. In the 10 search My client pops into #4 and the other two pop out. My client is sitting at #7 organic. These other two businesses, that were sitting at #3 and #5 in the 100 search are at +50 and +70 doing a regular search. Now, what is it that all three of these have in common...??
The #3 and #5 that you see in the Places 100 search are the ones filtered out or penalized, therefore adding two results and pushing your client from #4 to #6. See explanation about Places 10 and Places 100 above.


I'm glad it's helpful and I'll try to share things more often. Hopefully becoming more widely used doesn't cause it to go away - but I don't see a whole lot of reason for that to happen.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2013
Messages
781
Likes
412
I'm quite confident if they were to flip the order of that business name to have the Doctor name first and then the practice it would clear up this issue and if they have no other problems they would pop into the pack.
Broland. Have you had much success with doing this. We are constantly having this issue, but usually mess with the categories so they are not competing. Will give this a try as well...
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
Actually from my experience and that of my consultants "minimizing" the Dr dupes is what helps most. Because the biggest issue I am certain is having both listings linking to home.

Overcoming New Google Places Duplicate Listing Problems for Dentists, Doctors, Attorneys

But I guarantee rvchiro would not pop in the pack by clearing up the dupe because they are too far south. They only pop in if the search radius expands.

Plus they rank #1 for Chiro + zip. If it was a dupe lockout they would not.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
Hey guys, what do you make of this one. Nothing is matching up right.

alpharetta pediatric dentist Regular search

#1 organic: Alpharetta Children's Dentistry
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

A) Children's Dental Zone
B) Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry
C) Christy Haffner DMD PC
E) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: North Point
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
F) Dr. Monica Gupta, DMD
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

(E and F, same address, phone and both link to: alpharettachildrensdentistry.com)

alpharetta pediatric dentist Places 100

A) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: North Point
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
B) Dr. Monica Gupta, DMD
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
C) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: Christianson Judy DDS
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

The penalties we've talked about seeing in Place search 100 normally result in listings getting disconnected or knocked out of the pack totally.

But in this case the top 2 listings in Place search 100 are for alpharettachildrensdentistry.com and they are still ranking in the pack. They just got dropped down. So is this a 'little' penalty instead of one big enough to totally knock them out of the pack?

Also side note: As I said previously something has changed and Google in the recent past would not let 2 listings from the same practice with same address, phone and URL rank in the pack even if one was Dr and one was practice name. But now I sometimes see it. This is just one example of it happening.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,433
Likes
4,282
Hey Broland, I knew I had a screenshot of rvchiro ranking in the a spot back at one point when the radius was zoomed out. Finally found it.

A Spot on 12/29/13



Compared today - locked out due to proximity



Back in Dec they still had the same dupe, but ranked #1 because the search radius was zoomed out wide enough to include them.

But now they are too far south to even be included in the current map radius, so are locked out. Not a penalty per se I don't think, just a map search radius issue.
 
Joined
Feb 24, 2014
Messages
34
Likes
38
This is a great find! I have been working with a client under a manual penalty and I had been suspecting that they also had local penalties on some locations. This definitely is proving useful already as I have already found them ranking well with this search string, but unfortunately not in the SERPS.

I'm going to be running a few tests as well. If anyone wants my information for any other testing just PM me. Happy to share.
 

Broland

Forum Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2012
Messages
136
Likes
84
Broland. Have you had much success with doing this. We are constantly having this issue, but usually mess with the categories so they are not competing. Will give this a try as well...
Yes to an extent. The majority of what I've seen aren't actually clients I have any control over. But there are a couple current #1 and #2 local rankings that weren't in the local pack at all before but were ranking in the Places 100 search that we then fixed a few things and got them to where they are today.

Hey guys, what do you make of this one. Nothing is matching up right.

alpharetta pediatric dentist Regular search

#1 organic: Alpharetta Children's Dentistry
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

A) Children's Dental Zone
B) Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry
C) Christy Haffner DMD PC
E) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: North Point
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
F) Dr. Monica Gupta, DMD
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

(E and F, same address, phone and both link to: alpharettachildrensdentistry.com)

alpharetta pediatric dentist Places 100

A) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: North Point
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30022 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
B) Dr. Monica Gupta, DMD
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com
C) Alpharetta Children's Dentistry: Christianson Judy DDS
4205 North Point Pkwy, Alpharetta, GA 30005 (770) 664-4936
alpharettachildrensdentistry.com

The penalties we've talked about seeing in Place search 100 normally result in listings getting disconnected or knocked out of the pack totally.

But in this case the top 2 listings in Place search 100 are for alpharettachildrensdentistry.com and they are still ranking in the pack. They just got dropped down. So is this a 'little' penalty instead of one big enough to totally knock them out of the pack?

Also side note: As I said previously something has changed and Google in the recent past would not let 2 listings from the same practice with same address, phone and URL rank in the pack even if one was Dr and one was practice name. But now I sometimes see it. This is just one example of it happening.
Alpharetta is another market where it seems like there tends to always be a ton of spam :p

Yea this is a good example. For local, both have a -5 bump. I think it's more of a ranking decrease filter or trust issue type filter more so than a lock out penalty that won't allow you to rank. Thinking of it that way makes more sense to me, especially for cases like these.


For the rvchiro one, that's even more interesting to see them ranking spot A at the end of last year. It's tough to say with there being so many factors of both individual businesses and algo changes. But it could also be that ranking factors of the businesses cause the map radius to change as opposed to the other way around. I feel like I've seen this happen before, and I've definitely been able to rank businesses in the pack that were outside of the city of search and starting radius. We're definitely a lot more in the dark with local having all these other factors and Google not giving out much info, can make it more fun at times too though.
 

Similar threads

Local Search Forum


Weekly Digest
Subscribe/Unsubscribe


Google top contributor

@LocalSearchLink

Join Our Facebook Group

Top