Rankings only dropped in maps & 3-pack, can't find the culprit.

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
Hello,

First time poster here looking for some extra eyeballs to try to figure out what the scoop is with our local rankings. Any help or insight is greatly appreciated. Here are the details:

G+: https://plus.google.com/108449062799310853514
Business details from Google My Business:
ww gmb.jpg
Problem: For the better part of three years we've been able to dominate standard SERPs as well as 3-pack rankings for our main keywords (saugatuck bed and breakfast and all related variants). Starting in July we fell from 1st to 2nd or 3rd and then sank quickly to the 6 or 7th position and have stuck there. All the while, our regular SERPs are still doing fine - we rank out in the top five for the name of the town even, and we still tend to be the highest rank business for our keywords in the standard results. So, it would appear we've somehow done something to anger the local algo and I've been trying to troubleshoot with little success so far. Some things that have been done:

  • NAP cleanup to remove PO box. The site had it in several places and some third party sites had a PO box in the address, we've removed it from the site and fixed it on as many external sites as we can. Our citations still aren't great, but seem to be as good as our competitors.
  • Increased number and quality of reviews. All of these are legit reviews and we're now basically within .1 or .2 of competitors with many more reviews than all of them.
  • Site speed improvements. The site still isn't super fast but it's in line with competitors after we resized many images.

Beyond these things, we have pretty large advantages over our local competitors in terms of quantity and quality of links so I'm trying to figure out what I'm missing. I've been looking at this so long I fear I'm missing something painfully obvious, so hopefully someone else can shed some light on whatever that may be. Thanks!

 

bhartzer

Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Messages
67
NAP cleanup to remove PO box
How did you do that cleanup and how long ago? I'm asking because I've seen businesses do a cleanup, and either they didn't do it effectively (they didn't get all the listings) or they haven't waited long enough for the cleanup to take effect.

Our citations still aren't great, but seem to be as good as our competitors
How are you determining the number of citations you have versus your competitors? Certainly you should have more than your competitors if you expect to outrank them?
 

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
How did you do that cleanup and how long ago? I'm asking because I've seen businesses do a cleanup, and either they didn't do it effectively (they didn't get all the listings) or they haven't waited long enough for the cleanup to take effect.


How are you determining the number of citations you have versus your competitors? Certainly you should have more than your competitors if you expect to outrank them?
Thanks for the response!

The cleanup started about 3-4 weeks ago and finished up last week, so that's a good point - I suppose we may just need some time there. I guess I don't have too much faith in this being the issue since nothing substantial had been changed in years - but maybe Google just tightened things up a bit and didn't like some of those little inconsistencies any longer.

Number of citations was determined using Whitespark and BrightLocal. On either platform we're beating the top ranked sites. Given our overall lead in link building as well, I'm hard pressed to think this could be a volume issue even if these services are missing some things for us and the competitors.
 

bhartzer

Member
Joined
Oct 15, 2013
Messages
67
If you have just finished up the cleanup then you'll honestly need to wait 3-6 months to see the results of it.

If you're just using Whitespark and Bight Local then you're not seeing all of the local citations. You'll need to use something much more thorough, like Advice Local for the citation cleanup.
 

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
Wow, I guess historically it seems I've seen faster results than that. There were only about 20-30 listings that needed fixing so I guess if that's the culprit I'll have to wait and see. Tough to sit back that long and hope that it's the fix, though.

I haven't used Advice Local before, but I'm curious as to what else it would find that I can't find via BrightLocal, Whitespark and Google itself (I ran a bunch of searches using advanced operators to find PO Box listings, and anything with any element of our NAP). So, I guess I'm not sure how that tool could cover more than what I've already done.
 

bhartzer

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Oct 15, 2013
Messages
67
but I'm curious as to what else it would find that I can't find via BrightLocal, Whitespark and Google itself
Many sites are not indexed in Google, so it would be difficult to use Google to find those sites if those sites aren't indexed in Google.

Advice Local has the largest database of local citation sources that I know of. Much larger and more thorough than the ones you're suggesting that you used.
 

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
Many sites are not indexed in Google, so it would be difficult to use Google to find those sites if those sites aren't indexed in Google.

Advice Local has the largest database of local citation sources that I know of. Much larger and more thorough than the ones you're suggesting that you used.

I guess my next question would be, if it's not indexed by Google, do I really need to worry about it? If it's not in the index, how would Google use it as a ranking factor?
 

Nikos

Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2017
Messages
58
Hi Adamnldt,

In my personal opinion, I do not think that the citation cleanup you've done is messing with your local map rankings, though we do know that ranking factors are different in the 3-local pack than in classic results (and citations, reviews & GMB optimisation are important).

If that makes you feel better: you rank #3 in the 3-local pack map for your main keyword in Google Greece & Cyprus :)

I'm not sure if I get your question correctly but you should know that listings can appear in the 3-local pack even if they don't have a website. Anyone can claim a business and receive the confirmation code even if there is no URL.

Nikos.
 
Joined
Oct 25, 2013
Messages
770
I know there's a lot of extra ins and outs in the hotel space that affect ranking. I don't see anything that jumps out for general SEO, but you might want to reach out to someone specifically experienced in this industry. I know Tim Capper, one of the Google Top Contributors works with a number of hotels. It might be worth looking into getting an hour or two of his time, or someone else like him.

If you aren't already, I suggest tracking with Britelocal. If the client has the funds to warrant it, you might even want to track daily. They take SERP screenshots, so you can see when things shifted, and who else went up and down. Sometimes seeing your own changing position isn't as useful as seeing how everyone around you is moving too. It's tough sometimes figuring out what changed and what you should try to reclaim your rankings, it can make it a little easier to have more data on who else was shuffled around. Too late now of course, but... you know. For next time.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,847
Hey Adam,

When you look in Maps, most of the listings that rank are categorized as a B&B yet you are categorized as a 3-Star Hotel. This isn't related to the category you chose in Google My Business but is most likely coming from a 3rd party. I'm checking with Google to find out and will post back here when I hear from them.

BandB.png

 

Digitaldar

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Joined
Dec 8, 2014
Messages
126
If the above resources fail, and you think this might be link related, go to Marie Haynes. She is on this form but can also be reached at her name.com

I believe she usually has a 6 week backlog...
 

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
Thanks Joy. That's a great observation. Our primary category is set to bed and breakfast BUT we are also using hotel as a category. I've wanted to remove this for a while but have received some push back. I'm okay with "boutique hotel" as we have 11 rooms and we're bigger than a typical bed and breakfast, but when people want a hotel they're thinking a best western, hyatt, etc. etc. in my opinion.

In my research it seems that unless there aren't enough hotels in an area or enough b&bs Google draws a clear line between the two. As we're very clearly more of a b&b than a hotel, I've wondered if Google may have tightened the screws and thrown us into category purgatory by not clearly stating if we're one or the other. Any further input is greatly appreciated.
 

JoyHawkins

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Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,847
So we've been going back and forth on this quite a bit and it looks like the listings they have a star rating for are showing the star rating and then the ones that they don't have one for are showing B&B.

That's their explanation but can you remove the hotel category from your listing? I really want to see what that does and if it changes anything. It sounds like a mismatch since there is a definite difference between a hotel and a B&B.
 

adamnldt

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2017
Messages
7
So we've been going back and forth on this quite a bit and it looks like the listings they have a star rating for are showing the star rating and then the ones that they don't have one for are showing B&B.

That's their explanation but can you remove the hotel category from your listing? I really want to see what that does and if it changes anything. It sounds like a mismatch since there is a definite difference between a hotel and a B&B.
I'm not quite sure I understand the first sentence - can you explain that a bit more? I'm not sure if there's a typo or I'm just reading it wrong.

I will see what I can do about getting the category changed - that's a battle I have to fight unfortunately.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
2,847
Sorry. The way I worded it was a bit confusing.

The star ratings you see beside hotels on Google Maps (where it says 3-star hotel) are not something Google comes up with on their own. They come from 3rd parties.

So if the 3rd party sources don't have a listing or rating for a particular B&B, you'll see the B&B label on Google Maps. If they do have a rating, it shows the rating.

Google assigns these ratings based on the standard hotel rating system. Generally the stars match the site that is used for your booking link or what's on Priceline.

So it appears you can't get the "bed & breakfast" label if you have a hotel rating.

Since that's not something you can control, I would test removing the hotel category. It's not like it's a permanent change - you can easily add it back in a few days if you see no impact.
 

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