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

Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
752
For sure, happy to help Jake! And I hope that post didn't come across as too harsh to anyone, I don't want to throw anyone under the bus. I just thought you should know.

SEO basics is pretty simple... good backlink building, get your citations in order, make your site user friendly and fast, get reviews... but technical SEO and troubleshooting when problems crop up can get extremely complicated, and finding reliable information that's not out of date is very challenging. Some of the esoteric GMB problems I've gotten familiar with aren't really talked about online in a useful way anywhere that I've seen. Having an expert on hand with the knowledge to spot the specific problem you're struggling with is huge, I wish you luck. If I see anything else myself I'll let you know.
 

Jake tha Wolf

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
16
For sure, happy to help Jake! And I hope that post didn't come across as too harsh to anyone, I don't want to throw anyone under the bus. I just thought you should know.

SEO basics is pretty simple... good backlink building, get your citations in order, make your site user friendly and fast, get reviews... but technical SEO and troubleshooting when problems crop up can get extremely complicated, and finding reliable information that's not out of date is very challenging. Some of the esoteric GMB problems I've gotten familiar with aren't really talked about online in a useful way anywhere that I've seen. Having an expert on hand with the knowledge to spot the specific problem you're struggling with is huge, I wish you luck. If I see anything else myself I'll let you know.
Not a problem, and I understand that the deeper these issues get, the more niche expertise comes into play. You can be great on on-site optimization and have no idea about troubleshooting GMB for example. Our question now is whether to put our trust in this person we've found who has offered to do a deep diagnostic investigation, ahem, for $4k (he says his reports are 70 page pdf's) of the domain, GMB and other relevant factors. The whole thing is discouraging to say the least, but I'm doing what I do best: asking questions and trying to connect with the people who can be most helpful. I really appreciate your responses on here!
 

Jake tha Wolf

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
16
One more interesting puzzle piece:

We've known for a while that we're not getting credit for many of our backlinks that I can manually go and put my eyes on. Some business directories, some legal directories, even some large news sites. I'm assuming the issue is not the credibility of these sites, which are undisputed. But when I run a backlink check through a place like majestic, click on the link, and then type into google site: (link) when I dont see the link result in question pop up in the SERP, I am to understand its not indexed? If this is the case, am I to understand that google is selectively de-indexing some of our backlinks?

Several people have run scans on our domain and say nothing pops out to suggest google has penalized us in any way, but they sure aren't comfortable giving us link credit. Whats up with that? Ever since we restarted APIA/LRD website last fall, we've been VERY slow to get credit for some of our biggest links, and now theyre trickling in, but still not even close.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 12, 2012
Messages
1,830
One more interesting puzzle piece:

We've known for a while that we're not getting credit for many of our backlinks that I can manually go and put my eyes on. Some business directories, some legal directories, even some large news sites. I'm assuming the issue is not the credibility of these sites, which are undisputed. But when I run a backlink check through a place like majestic, click on the link, and then type into google site: (link) when I dont see the link result in question pop up in the SERP, I am to understand its not indexed? If this is the case, am I to understand that google is selectively de-indexing some of our backlinks?

Several people have run scans on our domain and say nothing pops out to suggest google has penalized us in any way, but they sure aren't comfortable giving us link credit. Whats up with that? Ever since we restarted APIA/LRD website last fall, we've been VERY slow to get credit for some of our biggest links, and now theyre trickling in, but still not even close.
Google's index is interesting.

Sometimes you'll search for something with site:url and the page won't show up as indexed. And then you'll search site:domain + keyword and the page will show up. And vice versa.

You'll also sometimes see Google return a backlink in GSC but you won't see the page indexed if you search for it.

Google crawls many, many pages that they don't index. Being indexed doesn't mean your backlink or citation hasn't been found or hasn't given appropriate ranking to your entity. It just means that Google didn't find the page interesting enough to index. Typically it has to do with low quality content on the page.

With that being said though, ideally you still want the page indexed. That way you know 100% Google knows about it.

Just check GSC. If the backlinks in question aren't in there then yes, it hasn't been indexed and needs to be.

Although, if it's a high quality backlink I imagine Google has indexed it.

If you want to reply with a few examples of backlinks you're concerned about I'll look over them for you.
 

Marie Haynes

Member
Joined
Aug 7, 2012
Messages
131
Hey there. Sorry for disappearing on you over the weekend.

So, this is likely a much more complicated situation than you think.

I'm still having a little bit of trouble following the timeline, but it sounds like this website was ranking well at one point but since then many things have changed. At some point it was not live. And when it did go live again, it was essentially a different business.

I think that we have to treat this as a brand new website launch. I don't think we can say that the site is being penalized or held down by one specific thing. But rather, a lot of changes have happened both in the website and in the way that Google ranks sites since the days when it was ranking well.

With that said, I can't see any evidence at all, according to SEMRush that this site was ever actually ranking well. SEMRush isn't always 100% accurate, but if the site was ranking well for a competitive term like "personal injury lawyer" in your city, it really should show up on SEMRush.

You mentioned earlier:

Before Possum, we were ranking 1st page organic and top 3 on the map listing for the most strong keyords, typically #1.
Is this for the personal injury site? Or are you talking about the combined site? I really can't see any evidence that the personal injury site was ever ranking well.

Still, your original question was about whether the site was filtered out because of Possum. I see you at #7 on maps for "asheville personal injury attorney" so I don't think that this is a case where you're being filtered out for having a similar address to another law office. (Joy is the person to ask about that though.)

Rather, it sounds to me like this is a case where more work needs to be done both on the site and in establishing this firm as a big player in the city. There are things that can be improved on the site. For example, there is very little above the fold content on the home page. The home page could probably benefit from having more readable content on it. Take a look at the site that is ranking #1 as a comparison: davislawgroupnc dot com/.

However, there are also factors that in my opinion, have changed in 2017 in regards to how Google ranks professional sites. I can't prove this, but I really feel that they are able to look at a number of offline factors as well. The Quality Raters Guidelines are something that Google uses to train people how to assess the quality of a website. They then take those results and try to make an algorithm out of it.

One of the things that is prominent in the guidelines is E-A-T (Experience, Authority and Trust). I believe that Google looks at a bunch of offline signals to figure out whether or not this professional is the best one to show people who are searching for a personal injury attorney. Now...please know that this next part is just my theory in trying to figure out how Google would go about this.

The Quality Raters Guidelines tell the raters to look for outside proof of the E-A-T and reputation of a website. When I go to Mr. Denton's LinkedIn Page it says that he works at Minick Law Firm. Also, the Minick law site itself shows him as one of their attorneys:

minicklaw dot com/how-an-asheville-personal-injury-lawyer-can-help-your-case/lakota-2/

minicklaw dot com/minick-law-personal-injury-lawyer-lakota-denton-obtains-sizable-award-hispanic-client-conservative-buncombe-county-jury/

Now, I have no idea how Google handles this kind of thing. I'm sure it's quite common for lawyers to leave one practice and start their own.

But, I think that it's quite possible that Google is confused because there are signals all over saying that Mr. Lakota works for Minick and given that the address is essentially the same, it might be hard to convince Google that he now has his own practice.

Still, I could be completely wrong about this.

In my area, there is a realtor who is ranked #1 organically and in maps. Her website is awful. It takes ages to load and for a long time it was hacked. But, the thing is, that she has been the top realtor in the city for over 40 years. Somehow Google's algorithms can look beyond how poorly her website is optimized, and still recommend her as the first choice because really, she *is* the first choice.


I think that in the past we could take any professional and rank them well if we did enough great things to their website and got some good links. But now, Google is getting better and better at determining who users want to see appear first in the results.

I'm not saying that Mr. Lakota is not the best choice for personal injury attorneys in the city, but my guess is that probably the sites that are ranking above him are firms that have a long, proven track record. As such, it will likely take time for him to crawl up higher in rankings. I'm not saying that you can't get there simply by doing good SEO. But, it does seem to be a lot easier to rank sites that have been in business forever and have loads of offline reputation.

It's always tricky getting advice from an SEO forum. There are some awesome folks in here, but in reality, helping in a situation like this would require quite a bit of digging in. My traffic drop assessments take me a couple of weeks to complete as there are so many possible factors. My point is that I would be wary about taking any of the advice here and running with it. Sometimes forum advice can be awesome if there is one particular problem holding a site back, but in this case I think you need someone to take a good, thorough look at the site.

You mentioned someone could do a review for around $4k. That's in line with my fees. If this person has a good track record, then I'd hire them to have a deep look and advise you on how to improve. But I really think that Google is treating this as a new business and as such, it's going to take time and work to crawl back up again. The goal will be to convince Google and customers that this person actually is the best choice to be ranked #1.

Good luck!
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
3,091
Jake,

One more observation I wanted to add. The listing for Lakota that ranks 5-10 locally doesn't appear to be very old. The oldest review on it is a year old. Also, a year ago, the listing had a different address on it. Maybe you mentioned this earlier and I missed it but the address on the listing a year ago was 107 Merrimon Ave, Asheville. This address currently appears to be Joe Adams' address.

That address is listed tons of places online still with Lakota's name as well, including Minick Law's site.

It's very likely the listing that ranked before in the 3-pack wasn't actually this listing but was a different one. Not sure if you know the answer to that or not but since this listing doesn't appear to be very old and since it changed addresses in the last year, I'd assume it's suffering as a result.

I agree with Marie - this situation most likely has several things impacting it and probably won't get solved quickly but if you are looking at investing to make sure you catch the real issues, I would strongly recommend you hire Marie. I've seen her audits and they are incredible.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
3,091
Jake,

I heard back from Google RE: what was changing the category back and forth. They said the change was coming from someone inside the Google My Business dashboard but then a different user changed it back. Sounds like you need to take a look at who has access to this listing via GMB and maybe remove some people who shouldn't have access.
 

Jake tha Wolf

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
16
Jake,

I heard back from Google RE: what was changing the category back and forth. They said the change was coming from someone inside the Google My Business dashboard but then a different user changed it back. Sounds like you need to take a look at who has access to this listing via GMB and maybe remove some people who shouldn't have access.
thanks for following up on that Joy I really appreciate you taking the time. This is the round and round I had with them on the phone. For some reason, they kept auto changing it back to "general practice attorney" and I had to repeatedly change it to "personal injury lawyer". Not to mention that every time I change something in GMB, I get dinged to some degree. So its tricky, but yes, I had to make some changes, for accuracy. Definitely damned if you do, damned if you dont it seems.
 

Jake tha Wolf

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
16
Jake,

One more observation I wanted to add. The listing for Lakota that ranks 5-10 locally doesn't appear to be very old. The oldest review on it is a year old. Also, a year ago, the listing had a different address on it. Maybe you mentioned this earlier and I missed it but the address on the listing a year ago was 107 Merrimon Ave, Asheville. This address currently appears to be Joe Adams' address.

That address is listed tons of places online still with Lakota's name as well, including Minick Law's site.

It's very likely the listing that ranked before in the 3-pack wasn't actually this listing but was a different one. Not sure if you know the answer to that or not but since this listing doesn't appear to be very old and since it changed addresses in the last year, I'd assume it's suffering as a result.

I agree with Marie - this situation most likely has several things impacting it and probably won't get solved quickly but if you are looking at investing to make sure you catch the real issues, I would strongly recommend you hire Marie. I've seen her audits and they are incredible.
Thats one of the things that recently hit my radar. We share a building with a business we used to be part of. And Lakota created a LOT of content for that site. So I was finally able to get access to the site so I could go in and manually remove mentions, photos, and other information about Lakota, to help signal to google that we're actually not part of that firm. Quite the extrication process.

Interestingly, Joe Adams talked to me about SEO back when he was in the next suite over in the building when we were all over at 107 Merrimon. As soon as we moved, he all the sudden jumped up as a contender in the map pack. I can't help but wonder if there was some filtering going on, as multiple law firms shared an address (minus the suite #).
 

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