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  1. #1
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    Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Long story short, I work for a law firm that shares the building with another law firm. We are personal injury, they are criminal defense. When the criminal firm bought the bldg, we added through USPS a "b" designation for our suite # in order to differentiate the addresses with google. We've seen a major drop in rankings since last fall when possum hit, which I know dealt with filtering some of these results, but we are actually two different businesses, with two different addresses, albeit similar. We are getting crushed on local and organic results, where we used to rank in the top 3 for most all of our most powerful keywords, now we're 5-15 on maps, and page 3 for organic keywords. We've resorted to adwords which we never had to do before, and isnt an ideal way to market for personal injury, from an ROI perspective. Diagnostically, When I type the address into google (with the "b"), I get a map snippet that shows the other business "at this location" but not us.

    This is compounded by the fact that these two law firms used to be together, doing both personal injury and criminal defense. They then split off, but stayed in the same building. To me this means its even more likely that google is filtering us out, as their algorithm might be more likely to see our previous affiliation and filter us, or at least, is clouding its ability to see us as separate entities.

    Short of moving, what can be done to help us differentiate in our location? I made sure our google business categories are appropriately designated (at some point recently, they both auto defaulted to "general practice attorney" so I had to go in and change them back. Not quite sure how long they were both having that designation.

    Any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks all

  2. #2
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Hey Jake,

    Do any of the categories overlap at all? Do you see the other firm instead of yourself? You mentioned you see yourself as 5-15 which doesn't sound to me like you're being impacted by the filter. The filter normally is when you're not there at ALL but then you see yourself when you zoom in.

    What location are you searching from when checking your rankings? Are you searching from the city or from your zip code?

    Were you always on page 3 organically? Organic ranking has a huge impact on local ranking so I wouldn't expect a business on page 3 organically to make it into the 3-pack.

  3. #3
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Hey Jake,

    Do any of the categories overlap at all? Do you see the other firm instead of yourself? You mentioned you see yourself as 5-15 which doesn't sound to me like you're being impacted by the filter. The filter normally is when you're not there at ALL but then you see yourself when you zoom in.
    Thanks for your reply Joy! Interestingly, google keeps auto resetting us both to "general practice attorney" and we've both changed it a couple times and it keeps getting reset. I have it set up for us as "personal injury lawyer" and them as "criminal defense lawyer"

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    What location are you searching from when checking your rankings? Are you searching from the city or from your zip code?
    Everywhere... I do a weekly rankings check on mobile device from 4 different parts of town, on my phone (chrome). I also do searches in incognito mode (to remove search history bias) from home, our office and random coffee shops to see whats showing up where.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Were you always on page 3 organically? Organic ranking has a huge impact on local ranking so I wouldn't expect a business on page 3 organically to make it into the 3-pack.
    Before Possum, we were ranking 1st page organic and top 3 on the map listing for the most strong keyords, typically #1. At that time I wasnt doing major diagnostics as mentioned above since we were doing well and getting plenty of calls.

  4. #4
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    The same month Possum hit, there was also a Penguin update. That update had to do with discounting any value from spammy backlinks. If you've built links in the past in 'fast and easy' ways, you likely had a weak foundation that just happened to stop supporting you when that update hit. I'd have someone look over your backlink profile to start with, I imagine that's where your work is going to be.

  5. #5
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Funny you should mention. We had a snafu last year where our business partnered with another business, and we redirected our site to a new partner site (with proper redirects to retain as much SEO juice as possible). Then unfortunately, the partnership fell apart, and we reverted to our original domain and redirected everything back to it. I dont think we ever recovered.

    Besides all of the best practice directories and local sites, we have a lot of really high quality backlinks from about a half dozen news agencies (local Fox, NBC etc as well as print and online news media) to cover a PSA campaign we ran last year highlighting crosswalk safety. One of the planned benefits for this campaign was to capture just these kinds of super high quality links, some of which are .gov etc...

    in the distant past, we used things like UAW pro (back when that was a good idea) to generate and distribute unique blog content. Those links turned out to be hurtful, but we cancelled that service and verified that the links were no longer active at least a year before all of this started, so I cant think of any low quality links that we have in any decent numbers.

  6. #6
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Possum was a strictly-local algorithm update (didn't impact organic) so if your organic ranking tanked as well, it's likely something else. If your organic ranking dropped, your local ranking would usually drop along with it so I would say it's likely your drop is not related to Possum.

    If you want to post specifics like the keyword + website in question, I'd be happy to give more specific advice instead of guessing ;-)

  7. #7
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Thanks very much Joy for your help, its: Asheville Personal Injury Attorney - Lakota R. Denton, P.A.

    and the strongest (search volume) and most basic keywords are:

    Personal injury lawyer
    personal injury attorney
    car accident lawyer
    car accident attorney
    injury lawyer
    injury attorney
    Asheville personal injury attorney
    Asheville personal injury attorney
    Asheville car accident lawyer
    Asheville car accident attorney.

    I also think its weird that when you type in our physical address, google shows the location and "businesses at this address" which does NOT include our business (Lakota R. Denton, P.A.)

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  8. #8
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    So I didn't have time to do a deep dive but there were a few things I observed that I'd recommend changing.

    First, remove the suite # in Google My Business. Google ignores the suite number anyway and it's misformatting your address so that Google can't completely understand it.

    Second, your issues are definitely more organic related and it doesn't appear like the drop had anything to do with Possum.

    Third, I would strongly suggest removing these hidden rich-anchor-text links. They go to the same page they're on (the homepage) and this could be causing issues since hidden links is definitely against Google's guidelines.
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    Fourth, I would look into why your categories keep changing. Contact Google My Business and ask them what's doing it. It could be someone editing your listing or a 3rd party source but you definitely don't want it to keep happening as that could impact ranking too.

  9. #9
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    So I didn't have time to do a deep dive but there were a few things I observed that I'd recommend changing.

    First, remove the suite # in Google My Business. Google ignores the suite number anyway and it's misformatting your address so that Google can't completely understand it.
    would that not only compound the NAP issues I'm having? the only thing that differentiates the two businesses from one another are the suite designation, or "b". If I remove the suite number, I'm afraid it would only drastically increase the likelihood of filtering, based on multiple locations in the exact same place. I was under the impression this was best practice to avoid issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Second, your issues are definitely more organic related and it doesn't appear like the drop had anything to do with Possum.
    Can you elaborate on this? I'm glad to hear, but I'm wondering what the rationale is

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Third, I would strongly suggest removing these hidden rich-anchor-text links. They go to the same page they're on (the homepage) and this could be causing issues since hidden links is definitely against Google's guidelines.
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    I will run this past my website architect and see what she says. She is the SEO instructor for the largest agency in the region, so I tend to trust her methods, but doesnt hurt to ask I suppose


    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Fourth, I would look into why your categories keep changing. Contact Google My Business and ask them what's doing it. It could be someone editing your listing or a 3rd party source but you definitely don't want it to keep happening as that could impact ranking too.
    I tried asking them yesterday. I think I've had about 5-6 calls to GMB support, always a call center in what sounds like India or Pakistan. I asked about that specifically, the guy said, you can't make changes to your listing or it will hurt search rankings. I asked why google keeps auto changing it back, and he told me to make sure your page is optimized and refrain from making changes. Over and over, stock answers read off a page, with no engaging the actual question. So I have no idea why they keep changing it. And apparently, every time I fix it, I both help the targeting, and hurt my ranking by making changes. I really wish their support was worth a damn. I think in 6 calls, I've maybe gotten 1 or 2 tiny morsels of assistance. Mostly they dodge any questions that require a complex answer or digging in at all.

  10. #10
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    Re: Local SEO issue for two businesses in one location - Possum?

    Jake,

    Sharing an address is not what gets you filtered. It's the proximity of your pin on the map to other related businesses in the area. The suite # field is pretty much useless since Google doesn't read it at all. See this case study for an example of a business that got filtered due to a business down the street.

    You guys aren't filtered, your ranking just dropped. If it had been Possum you would have noticed your local ranking drop or disappear but your organic ranking would have remained the same. That's not what you explained happened so since your organic ranking took a hit, you need to look at organic factors to find the issue.

    Try this tool to get an idea. I also asked Marie Haynes to chime in here because she is an expert when it comes to traffic drops, especially when it's an organic drop.

    Google states hiding links is a violation of their guidelines:

    Hiding text or links in your content to manipulate Google’s search rankings can be seen as deceptive and is a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
    I'll check w/ GMB on the category issue to see if I can get any answers for you.

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