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  1. #1
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    10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    I did a test today. I was on the highway driving through a city of approx 100k with only one major freeway. Basically this freeway goes from South to North through the middle of the city. From one end of the city to the other is about 5 miles.

    So I start searching a sab category, landscapers. No modifier just the category. I searched by voice and the results were; "here are landscapers within 2 miles of your location". Each time I searched the results changed drastically. Results that were top 3 in one end of the city were below 10 in the local search more results box.

    I was really surprised that sab results changed so much over such a short distance. I never realized that mobile searches for an on location service that wasn't dependent on distance from the searcher was so localized.

    My question is, how would you do seo for a sab when google gives so much weight to the location of the business, not the service area?

    Thoughts?

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  3. #2
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    That's a really interesting observation. Too bad that loop hole for checking the address of a SAB got closed... would be interesting to see if their actual location is in fact what it's pulling from or not. My suspicion at least is that it is, which means ranking for a SAB is about the same as it is for someone with a normal location. You do what you can, and cover all the holes with organic, PPC, or any of the other outreach methods.

    For what it's worth, the industry I've been spending most of my time in lately has about a 50/50 split between SABs and normal businesses, and it seems like neither is given an advantage or a penalty. Giving the SABs a chance to rank well in the populated areas regardless of their actual physical location (even if it's hidden) seems like that would be a pretty strong advantage... so I'm not surprised Google treats them not too differently than a business with a displayed address.

  4. #3
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    I was very surprised honestly. I was actually searching a different sab that I know the locations of all the results. So I know where the business's are located.

    Even more surprising was that most searches carried a "within 2 miles" results, that isn't far for a service area business. Especially for a small market of only a hundred thousand.

    I think strategically sab's will need to put their offices very near the neighborhoods of their target markets. I will be moving my office because of this.

    I actually went on infousa and started drawing 2 mile radius circles to find the highest concentration of my target by age, homeowners and income.

  5. #4
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    Thanks valesence. Great observation and thanks for starting this discussion!

    I think Mike Blumenthal said it 1st...

    The USER is the new centroid!

    One of the many reasons accurate rank tracking is so hard these days. Between personalization, specific query and searcher location, results can vary.
    Linda Buquet .:. Forum Founder, Google Local Specialist

    If you benefit from advice here... Please pay the community back by sharing on social OR helping someone else at the forum. Thank you!

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

  6. #5
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    I think my next test might be using 5 random peoples Phones. That should be interesting

  7. #6
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    I remember seeing this exact same thing a couple years ago when I was being driven to the airport and noticed all the results changed every few minutes and the ones ranking at the top were ridiculous keyword-stuffed names that couldn't possibly be real businesses.

    Honestly, if I had an SAB as a client in this scenario I'd probably put spam-fighting at the top of the list. It's what the good locksmiths have to do these days to stay alive. We see dozens of reports over on the GMB forum from them reporting their competitors who have tons of fake listings.

    James - to show that an SAB listing is wrong/fake, I wouldn't think you need to see the address on Google. Most of the time the addresses they're using are residential so you can't really take it down that way. What I've found to be the #1 way to show it's fake is call the phone number. I generally do it before they open (early morning) so I get their voicemail and can see if they actually answer it the way it's listed (Is their name really Denver Garage Door Service?). You'll also find a lot of the phone #s are dead because people create these listings in mass and often end up having the tracking numbers disconnected. Those ones are easier to get rid of. I would also check the phone # to see if they have multiple listings or if there are multiple listings using the same website.

    Keep in mind that to be successful at this you have to have a really strong knowledge of both the GMB and MapMaker (if the address is showing) guidelines.

    I would also only say this is really a good tactic for spammy industries with lots of fake listings - but most SAB industries are.
    Joy Hawkins
    Owner of Sterling Sky
    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.

  8. #7
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    The results I was referring to actually were all legitimate. What I noticed was that larger companies that had shops and offices were farther away from the residential areas. This gave the smaller guy that ran his business out of his home from large residential areas an advantage. Some of these business's did very little seo work, just being close to the residential areas gave them an massive advantage.

    As a positive for local seo specialists, you could target these smaller companies and with minor tweaks and adjustments be able to get them leads because the proximity will benefit them enough to rank them in their area.

    Take this scenario. A small plumber is running out of his home with 10,000 homeowners within 2 miles. He is one of 3 others doing the same thing. however you clean his nap, encourage a few reviews and make his website look nice. How many leads would he get from being number one on mobile search in that neighborhood?

  9. #8
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    Ah. K. So if the listings are all legit it definitely makes it tougher. I would probably make my #1 priority getting lots of reviews then.
    Joy Hawkins
    Owner of Sterling Sky
    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.

  10. #9
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    Re: 10 local searches 10 different results while driving 5 miles down highway

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Ah. K. So if the listings are all legit it definitely makes it tougher. I would probably make my #1 priority getting lots of reviews then.
    Were both on the same page with reviews. I work constantly on reviews.

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