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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    At the beginning of October Google updated many of the Google Webmaster Guidelines.

    The Google Webmaster Guidelines are the BIBLE for organic SEO.
    Now, since the blended algo is primarily about organic ranking factors, Local search consultants
    need to keep up with the changes and comply, just as you do with the Google Places Guidelines.

    There are a couple changes to the guidelines that directly affect local business web sites.
    Red highlights are the ones I want to alert you to and discuss.

    Keyword stuffing - Webmaster Tools Help

    "Keyword stuffing" refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site's ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.

    Examples of keyword stuffing include:

    - Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value

    - Blocks of text listing cities and states a webpage is trying to rank for

    - Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural, for example: We sell custom cigar humidors. Our custom cigar humidors are handmade. If you’re thinking of buying a custom cigar humidor, please contact our custom cigar humidor specialists at custom.cigar.humidors@example.com.
    I was unable to find a copy of the previous guidelines anywhere, but I am pretty sure the part about blocks of text with city and state is new and possibly the part about lists of phone numbers.

    I'm sure we've all seen the type of spammy sites that are VERY over-optimized for local (plumbing sites come to mind - sorry.) Some not only list 30 cities but do it in tiny text in the footer of every page. Some even link to 30 city pages. City 1 Plumbers, City 2 Plumbers, City 3 Drain cleaning, City 4 Plumber...
    Some sites list or link 10 - 40 cities deep depending on size of their service area.

    Oh and zip codes? Those local sites with a whole HUGE bank of zips at bottom of the page? Bye-Bye!
    I've never thought any of this stuff was a good idea, but now it looks like it's official. Don't do it!

    My guess is these sites are going to get dinged - and hard. Or maybe already have.

    I 'assume' that a Dentist that says on home page, "we also serve city 2, 3 , 4" that's probably OK. (Who knows for sure.) HOWEVER, Google wants natural content and wants you to represent as you do in the brick and mortar world. And even in newspaper or TV ads it's common for a company to say we service the following communities. BUT the difference is, that's to show CUSTOMERS the area they serve. So it's just a mention, just the main surrounding cities AND I think that's appropriate on a web site and should not cause penalties. (It's when it's excessive and done just for ranking that it becomes a problem.)

    But sites using BIG blocks with an EXCESSIVE #of cities the site is trying to rank for - OR a BIG list of CITY LINKS - OR especially ALL OF THE ABOVE in a huge block of TINY TEXT ON EVERY PAGE. Those are the sites that I think are going to get hit and hit hard. Or maybe already have.

    So if you've had sites drop recently, this is something I'd look very closely at.

    The other guideline I wanted to mention is this one.

    Hidden text and links - Webmaster Tools Help

    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. Text (such as excessive keywords) can be hidden in several ways, including:

    - Using white text on a white background
    - Locating text behind an image
    - Using CSS to position text off-screen
    - Setting the font size to 0
    - Hiding a link by only linking one small character—for example, a hyphen in the middle of a paragraph

    When evaluating your site to see if it includes hidden text or links, look for anything that's not easily viewable by visitors of your site. Are any text or links there solely for search engines rather than visitors?
    The ones I highlighted in red I see OFTEN on local sites.

    Here's one good example of a Chiropractor with invisible City/KW stuffed in H1 in the header - from our long, example-filled post "Local SEO Game - Why Ranks High".

    I see the trick above plus using CSS to hide a long string of City+KWs by pushing off the screen,
    ALL the time on local sites.


    I am reasonably certain the parts in red are NEW because a Google search for exact text finds nothing. SO be aware these are new issues that could cause a ranking penalty OR even remove you from the index.

    I was going to hunt down some more good examples but am out of time right now and need to hit publish.

    If you got dinged and think it could be related to these guidelines OR see any outrageous GEO KW stuffing examples you care to share, please post below.
    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!

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

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

  2. #2
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Thank for this post very useful.
    The only one I didnt understand was
    "Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value"

    I think it just means lot of phone number? Am I right?
    I just use a "vcard" with one number on every page. I dont think I have to worry about this but just wanted to ask instead of finding out I was wrong the hard way.

  3. #3
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Sorry, but I wasn't real sure on that one either. I added it because it sounded like it could possibly relate to local (since it's phone #s) - but it's not something I've seen much. (So I didn't bold it.)

    Assume it's kinda like some do with a big list of zips and they put a BIG LIST of phone #s for all the different cities they serve, but again not real sure.
    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!

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

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

  4. #4
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    On a slightly different but related note, just read a really great post by Matt McGee about generating the actual content for different geo locations. This could pertain to either multi-location or service area business clients.

    How to Create Local Content for Multiple Cities - focuses on ways to generate UNIQUE content for each location so it's not duplicate content, redundant or spammy.

    Pay very special attention to #1 and #2. Gold nugget insights!!!

    Thanks Matt!
    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!

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

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

  5. #5
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Buquet View Post
    On a slightly different but related note, just read a really great post by Matt McGee about generating the actual content for different geo locations. This could pertain to either multi-location or service area business clients.

    How to Create Local Content for Multiple Cities - focuses on ways to generate UNIQUE content for each location so it's not duplicate content, redundant or spammy.

    Pay very special attention to #1 and #2. Gold nugget insights!!!

    Thanks Matt!
    Now that was a very good post by Matt McGee
    Thank you Linda for the share. I know I have asked about this in another post here on this form. So this was great for me to see.

  6. #6
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    The Dentist I use as an example in my Local SEO training - the one that I got DOUBLE #1s for.
    (#1 in organic AND A in blended.)

    His blended dropped from A to E. I was looking at the site again just now to try to figure out why he dropped. Due to writing this article, I tuned into cities on his home page.

    In paragraph 2 it has BOLD "we serve city 1, city 2, city 3 , city 4". Then bottom of page all those cities are repeated PLUS a string of others - again, all in bold. (I didn't create the site.)

    His internal specially optimized page that was #1 organic, dropped to #3. That page has the same string of bold cities but only once. Not duplicated. Hmmm.

    Interestingly the Dentist that popped up to #1 has a very low key MINIMALLY optimized site. Title tag simply City Dentist | Practice Name. And no other cities mentioned and really the city he's in is not mentioned much either. Almost UNDER optimized.
    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!

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

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

  7. #7
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    WOWSER! Talk about City Keyword Zip stuffing spam! Man that's one of the worst cases I've seen.
    These examples illustrate what NOT to do as far as city keyword stuffing.

    allfourseasons.com - Check out footer. (Copy/paste, don't want to direct link.)
    joesgraphics.com - Next check out footer from their web design company.

    Sites that THAT cause Guideline changes like THIS!
    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!

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

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

  8. #8
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Quote Originally Posted by Linda Buquet View Post
    WOWSER! Here is a great example that illustrates what NOT to do as far as city keyword stuffing.

    allfourseasons.com - Check out footer. (Copy/paste, don't want to direct link.)
    joesgraphics.com - Next check out footer from their web design company.
    Holy _ I have never seen someone do this. Thats just retarded it look so bad to viewers on the site. I think anyone that does something like that should be DROPED.
    The first one the footer is just about bigger than the whole page.

  9. #9
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Yep, pretty crazy, huh???
    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!

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

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

  10. #10
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    Re: Warning: New Google Guidelines Local SEOs Must Know - Could Cause Penalties

    Linda,
    I have a dentist client that had a site with the excess zips in footer. I removed them a few months ago. But a site that was super UN optimized jumped to the top of blended results. Just today I noted that my clients site is back to the top of Plus Local...but still not on first page of organic. I find it interesting that the extremely vanilla site jumped to the top just as in your case.

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