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Thread: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

  1. #1
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Question Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Here's a puzzle for the pros...

    NORMALLY if you search for Dallas + Keyword and your search location is set to Los Angeles your client may rank D. (For example) HOWEVER if you change your location to Dallas where the client is based and where most of their customers would search from, you will often be pleasantly surprised and they rank B or something.

    TYPICALLY if you set search location to clients location rankings will either be the same OR sometimes a little better. This makes sense and is the norm.

    I have a WEIRD example of it going the other direction.

    I have a client that is WELL optimized for City Dentist and for a long time they've ranked A for City Dentist. (When location set to the city they are located in and where searchers would search from.)

    Now he suddenly dropped to E when location is set to HIS city.
    BUT if I change to different state or US (no location set) he jumps to B!


    That's backasswards! If he's IN that city and you search FROM that city, he should be more relevant and rank higher not lower! Why would he rank HIGHER if you search from OUT of state???

    Should work the opposite. They rank high with location set TO that city and then drop if location NOT in that same city.

    (Sorry I can't share link or specifics. This is one of the main clients I use for example in my Local SEO training. The one that had DOUBLE #1. #1 in organic AND A in blended. Side note: Per my post yesterday about the new Google guidelines about lists of cities being considered keyword stuffing now - I suspect that's his problem and need to talk to his designer about some site changes. I didn't do his site.)

    Have seen this complaint from someone else here at the forum too.
    (Need to go try to find that post to see if it sheds any clues.)

    Has anyone else seen this happen?
    Any ideas what would cause this?
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  2. #2
    Flash is offline Map Maker Expert
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    You said that normally you have seen clients jump in ranking if you switch your location to their city.

    Logically, if some jump, others must fall. If everyone jumped, rankings would stay the same.

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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Hey Linda,

    That is very frustrating... Just to verify, all these searches are being done without being logged into a Google account, correct?

    Thanks,
    Matt

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Hmmm, good point Matt and thanks for bringing it up.

    I'm always logged into one Google account or the other. So those results are logged in. But client is actually searching from the location he's in, obviously - and he's seeing the drop too. I assume he's searching logged in but am not sure. He's not very tech savvy so who know.

    Have not told him yet with location not set, he's up at B.

    So I'll log out and check. AND I'll ask him to do a series of checks from there with location set and not - logged in and logged out.

    Cuz bottom line does not matter what I see (except I kinda need to know for testing). What's important is the results someone in his area would see.
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Hey Linda,

    Yes, good point. I have run across this situation before and being logged in vs. not logged in was a large influence on how the results were being served (I think moreso when a client is logged in checking their 'rank' everyday).

    Let me know if this is the case in your situation as well. Hope it works!

    Thanks,
    Matt

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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Just found replies to me via Twitter that kinda make sense and could indicate a new proximity filter of some kind.

    @ChiroHosting Tweeted: "when you search outside the City, this most likely plays more or less in to their algorythm."

    "geographical location when you search locally Google will choose rank closest to the geographical center of the city your in."

    Hmmm, that's a really good theory considering this Dentist is as far from city center as you can get. In fact 1/2 of his patients come from next state over. For a long time I could not get him to rank at all due to the old "proximity lockout algo".

    So ChiroHosting is suggesting that since he's well optimized for City Dentist, when location is not set the algo will take over and he'll rank higher. BUT when his city is set - then location kicks in and becomes a stronger ranking signal.

    I'm doing a ton of reverse engineering the algo research this weekend, because I suspect quite a few other algo changes just recently happened. So will check the above theory against some other listings as well.

    Thanks ChiroHosting!
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    MiriamEllis's Avatar
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Linda - I think what you are saying is that distance to centroid becomes a greater ranking factor when searching from within the city.

    Is that right???
    Local Business Website Design, Professional Copywriting and Consulting at Solas Web Design!

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Well it was just 2 short tweets from someone but it sounds like that's what he was saying.

    And it sounds possible. BUT client WAS ranking so if that's the issue then it was an algo change.

    BUT I'm investigating other things that could have caused the drop too. He has 2 different spots on home that have a several cities listed in bold. (So not only city list, but duplicated so that new Geo KW stuffing guideline could be at play.) And there are a couple other things that could be going on too.

    So digging in this weekend to do some more analysis on this one AND some of my other clients to try to figure out what's up.

    There have been so many algo changes the past month I can't keep up and no one has documented how any of them are effecting local! Will keep everyone posted on anything I figure out, discover or even suspect could be an issue.
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  10. #9
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Initial research does not support the proximity issue mentioned above.

    Just tested my fav test market + keyword. "Seattle Chiropractor". Logged into Seattle or US or other state, the results don't change. Then checked "Chicago dentist". No change when search location changed either. So doesn't appear prox algo changed. Appears it's just something with this particular listing.
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    Lightbulb Re: Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards

    Hi Linda,


    It is very important how have you run the search query after changing the location.

    When a user is searching for a keyword which is including location ex:

    "Miami dentist"

    (Location + Keyword )

    the results will be pretty similar regardless the location. Take a look to the following heatmap and you will see that most of the times the websites ranks on the same positions:

    Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards-jmqj.png

    but if the user will change the location and will try to complete the search only on the main keyword, for example

    "dentist"

    ( Keyword only )

    the results will be extremely different between locations. see the next heatmap:

    Google Local Ranking Mystery - Location Settings Backwards-jmrf.png

    What is happening is that the normal results are pushed down by the local ones, as you can see from a certain position the rankings structure start being similar.

    ( * grey color represent websites which are ranking only on one city. All those URLs were marked with grey

    full reports can be checked on

    Ranking Report for "miami dentist" on TOP 15 cities in United States and
    Ranking Report for "dentist" on TOP 15 cities in United States )


    And all this because usually the keywords which doesn't contains the location have a bigger Local SEO competition level, so the answer to your question could be that the site you've mentioned has a good SEO Rank but on the targeted location are competitors with a better Local SEO Rank

    Hope my answer helps,
    Sergiu

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