Rank High in Organic but Not in Local? Joy's Post at Search Engine Land


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Check out this Local Search Puzzle
Learn a Couple Great Lessons

I don't share every good post from Search Engine Land because I know most of you hear read them, especially local posts. But I wanted to share this one, to start a discussion since SEL has comments turned off and I can't comment there.

Also wanted to let Joy know about another problem on the listing in her case study.

<a href="http://searchengineland.com/rank-high-organically-not-locally-case-study-240692">When You Rank High Organically But Not Locally (Case Study)</a>

You've done everything right in terms of local SEO -- you're even ranking high in organic results -- but you just can't seem to get a place in the map pack. What's wrong?

I always enjoy solving Local SEO puzzles, but there’s one that has baffled me for the last couple of years. I’ve had many other professionals in the Local SEO community look at it, and they were equally stumped. It was one of those cases that seemed to make no sense at all, until it finally hit me a week ago...

Whenever I come across a situation where organic ranking is high but local ranking is low, it always makes me cringe. It seems to be one of the biggest mysteries out there in Local SEO. I’ve learned a lot in my quest to solve this one and wanted to share it...

Read Joy's post & check out the listing she's talking about or what I'm about to say won't make any sense.

A question and observation for Joy.

QUESTION: Good catch on the city limits. Would never have thought of that. I've checked numerous ways and their address IS located in Tampa Florida. I mean Tampa is the city in the address. So you are saying it does not matter that the address is Tampa Florida if they are technically not in the city limits???

OBSERVATION: Big issue with that listing:

There is NO city listed in the address at all!
5314 N Falkenburg Rd Florida 33610


Did you notice that? Has it been like that for a long time or is it a temp glitch?
How can you even have a listing without a city? I assume city is in dash and just not showing live?

If it's been that way all along and you just never noticed, then I think that's a big part of the problem too?


HOT TIP: If by chance Joy did not notice the city was missing, there is a great lesson here.

Many times we see what we THINK is there, not what is REALLY there.

Case in point. I did a ranking troubleshooting consult for a very sharp and high end local search agency. They had tried everything and checked the listing numerous times and could not figure out why it was not ranking.

I don't remember the exact street name so generic example: The actual address was "Airport Road", but on the listing the address was "Airport Way". They'd moved the map marker to the actual location so didn't notice - but Airport Way was in a totally different area. They never noticed because it's close AND they skimmed right over it ASSUMING it was correct.

Lesson learned? Never assume anything! Look at everything with a fine tooth comb!

I'll ping Joy and we can get a discussion going around this case study.

Anxious to hear the answers to my Qs in blue above.

 

JoyHawkins

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Hey Linda! Thanks for posting :)

To answer your question, the city is missing because I changed the city via MapMaker to the county name as an experiment. It's what MapMaker would tell you to do since it's "technically" right. However, it made zero impact on ranking (I mentioned that part in the article) and it looks stupid, as you pointed out, because on Google it is just "missing" a city. I'll keep it like that for a bit since it didn't hurt anything but will probably change it back to Tampa in GMB.

So you are saying it does not matter that the address is Tampa Florida if they are technically not in the city limits???

That's just the thing - according to Google Maps they are NOT in Tampa. Their physical address is not in the city-limits and based on numerous cases I've looked at lately - this is a big deal. The way I check now to see if that is possibly the issue is if they rank for "keyword" from the city but not for "keyword + city" like I mentioned in the article. Crazy stuff eh?
 
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But I plugged "5314 N Falkenburg Rd Tampa Florida 3361" into Maps and MM and they both resolved and showed that address with Tampa. It didn't say "did you mean?" and some other city.

In fact in MM when I plug in that address it finds their building and has Tampa in the building address.

Compound building - 5314 North Falkenburg Road, Tampa, Florida 33610
It does not list Compound building in another city or just county.

So I'm still confused about why you removed city, if that address resolves fine both places?

I know there are lots of physical addresses on the outskirts of a town, not officially within the city limits BUT the address is still in that town.
 

JoyHawkins

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Changing the city to the county on MapMaker was something I did because it is what MapMaker recommends/tells you to do. Check out this thread for another case that is in the same boat.

I've been told numerous times by different people over at MapMaker to use counties in these cases. As we all know, MM and GMB don't always agree and GMB doesn't really care so I figured why not see what happens when I follow the MapMaker guidelines instead? The result, so far, was it doesn't matter so I won't be doing it for others. I haven't switched it back yet because I wanted to give it a month.

You are right that it's semi-confusing since you search the address and it auto-fills in Tampa. You'd think that this means the business is in Tampa. However, I'm seeing more and more that that method doesn't uncover these cases and I'm seeing tons of examples lately that fall into this category of businesses that have a mailing address in A but a physical address in B and Google definitely uses the physical address when determining who to rank higher.
 
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I'm seeing tons of examples lately that fall into this category of businesses that have a mailing address in A but a physical address in B and Google definitely uses the physical address when determining who to rank higher.
But this isn't a case of them being in city B is it? I know you would not add a city to their address that was not correct. And that's the way Google knows the address - with Tampa.

I even plugged just the address and zip into MM and Google tells me the address is for the Compound Building and lists the address as Tampa.

And when I search nearby on MM it tells me: North Falkenburg Road is located at
"5309-5337 North Falkenburg Road, Tampa, Florida". Which includes Tampa and includes their address?

I'm just confused about if their real address is Tampa and Google recognizes it as Tampa, why is Tampa wrong?
 

Ben Bowen

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Interesting:

Plug the address into G Maps and it does say Tampa.

BUT- Just search Tampa and G highlights the actual city limits.

Compare the two and this guy is not technically in Tampa.
 

mborgelt

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This is another interesting study of how granular local search optimization can be. It also provides insight on how to target keywords Google won't rank a business for due to location (target the general kw instead of kw + city). Great write-up I'll be showing this to our team!
 

JoyHawkins

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Thought I'd share this with you guys - his ranking for this has been fluctuating like crazy the last 10 days. I think we might be seeing a new algorithm update soon.




 
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Thanks Joy!

ColoradoDoug in the last post in the ranking thread says he's seeing wild fluctuations too.

<a href="http://www.localsearchforum.com/local-search-news/39251-huge-ranking-algorithm-change-jan-10-2016-a.html">Huge Ranking Algorithm Change - Jan 10, 2016</a>

But the packs I track have not budged.
 

JoyHawkins

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Just to add more detail, what's changing based on the screenshots Bright Local took is the days he's ranking 2, Google is now starting to show the non-branded search results for this term instead of branded search results. It's 2 different types of 3-packs and they have different ranking signals from the looks of things.

I think I might need a part 2 of this post :p





 

Dr GMap

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Good to know stats when presenting to clients. I find it's easier to show rankings for keyword rather than keyword + city especially now after you showing how the business that lies just outside the city limit is affected. I have seen this also personally.

In addition I agree there is something amok in GMaps just this last week. I've had some long time listings in the top3 that have been dropped and moving around alot. These listings are all optimized to the T and have no idea what the heck is going on!? Google Dance time?
 

theitsage

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This describes my situation exactly. My website ranks in the top 3 organically but had fallen out of the Local Pack in the past 2 weeks. My address is slightly outside of St Paul, MN and that's the determining factor.

I've seen a competitor gamed the system by hiding his address and set service radius to the entire state of MN. From what I could tell, he set the business address in the center of St Paul, MN where a UPS store is located. His website is not in the Top 10 of serps but his business listing is in the Local Pack.
 

Laustin1878

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Working with an apartment management company, I know they tend to "market" to the more premier areas, even if they are nearby those areas. I've explained that this will likely throw off rankings but they want to continue to target to the premier cities.

After playing with this little trick Joy shared, I came across a scenario where the city of the physical address is different then what they are targeting but the zip code is the same as the city they are targeting (Target city > City A, Actual city > City B, Target zip > 11111, Actual zip > 11111).

I need to conduct my due diligence and advise them of this scenario but I am not sure if it's technically incorrect or how exactly to handle it b/c of the zip codes being the same. I'm fairly sure I know what the client will say but any advice how to handle & address it?
 

JoshuaMackens

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Working with an apartment management company, I know they tend to "market" to the more premier areas, even if they are nearby those areas. I've explained that this will likely throw off rankings but they want to continue to target to the premier cities.

After playing with this little trick Joy shared, I came across a scenario where the city of the physical address is different then what they are targeting but the zip code is the same as the city they are targeting (Target city > City A, Actual city > City B, Target zip > 11111, Actual zip > 11111).

I need to conduct my due diligence and advise them of this scenario but I am not sure if it's technically incorrect or how exactly to handle it b/c of the zip codes being the same. I'm fairly sure I know what the client will say but any advice how to handle & address it?
If the zips are the same, surely they're pretty close to each other? If they are, because they share the same zip, is it a low populated area? If it is, then I think you will be fine. The best thing you can do to rank well is have a client in a low population area :)
 

Laustin1878

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If the zips are the same, surely they're pretty close to each other? If they are, because they share the same zip, is it a low populated area? If it is, then I think you will be fine. The best thing you can do to rank well is have a client in a low population area :)
Yes Josh, the physical address is located in the next "town" over. I was thinking it couldn't be too tragic as they share the same zip codes but the targeted city has a lot more amenities and only has a slightly higher population (+5,000) according to Wikipedia.

Unfortunately, they are not ranking as good as I'd like them to. Also, the client is very stern on the cities they represent on their site. Despite numerous attempts and mentions that it's not the right way to go, they want it anyway. I like where your head is at though haha
 

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