Cody

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For years, the aspect that I've loved the most about Local SEO, so much so that it drove my decision to start my own agency, has been that I wholeheartedly believe in the benefit it provides a business.

As I'm sure you've learned, to be successful in sales the most important thing is to believe in whatever it is you're selling. This has taken me a long way in selling SEO, an industry that spammers and scammers have all but ruined with the stigma of snake oil.

More specifically, I have always believed in the local SEO services I provide. While I stress to my clients there is no ranking guarantee, I know that I will get my client ranked. Not because I'm the best SEO, but because I turn away a large portion of potential clients. If I even have the slightest doubt, I politely refer them to someone else and carry on.

Then pigeon came along.

Over the last month I've not only started to second-guess my belief in the local SEO services I provide, but local SEO services in general.

I wanted to seek out the view of other consultants before doing anything too drastic, so I ask, do you honestly and wholeheartedly believe in your local SEO services?

Not your ability to provide quality local SEO, but if you feel confident that you will be able to rank and satisfy the expectations you set with new clients.

The reason I ask is because of the increasing mentions of people experiencing things like the following post I came across today.

http://localsearchforum.catalystema...impact-local-search-visibility.html#post47216

I work in the legal world, and the amount of flux is crazy. I've seen our map links come and go on a daily basis. Been tracking since it happened.

Pre-Pigeon our map links have stayed constant for almost 3 years, now major flux. Some days we go missing, sometimes we show up again but in a different position.

Many 7 packs are now 3 packs, even a 1 pack has been seen!

1904-hard-research-pigeons-impact-local-search-visibility-maplinks.jpg

This is basically identical to everything I've been experiencing post-pigeon, and it's starting to become an issue for both my client's and my agency. I'm starting to think there isn't even a method to Google's madness, or at least not one that would make any sense.

I posted this on the forum a little over a month ago following the update.

http://localsearchforum.catalystema...l-algo-update-google-pigeon-12.html#post45127

I've been manually tracking local <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">SEO</acronym> terms the past few days from mobile and desktop and it's been pretty wild.

I've followed 4 major cities, one of them being my own. The results have been consistent for all 4 cities. Here's what I've noticed..

For City + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">SEO</acronym> there has been no 7 pack for several months. Following the update a 7 pack started showing. A few days ago I noticed there was no longer a 7 pack so I started investigating.

The trend I've seen is that when city+<acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> is showing a 7 pack, some terms like city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">SEO</acronym> company stop showing a 7 pack.

At the time being there is no 7 pack for <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">SEO</acronym>+city, but city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> company, city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> firm, city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> agency, city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> services, and city + <acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym> consultant all have 7 packs.

The keywords I listed above each show a different 7 pack. When I change my location in google the 7 pack stays the same.

However on mobile search, I get a different 7-pack for each term than I do on my desktop. This is the same for each city I've been tracking.

The fluctuations have been sporadic and frequent the past few days, sometimes changing in the span of an hour. At a given time I will get a 7-pack for city+<acronym title="Search Engine Optimization" style="border-width: 0px 0px 1px; border-bottom-style: dotted; border-bottom-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); cursor: help; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-style: italic; background-color: rgb(242, 246, 248);">seo</acronym>+keyword on mobile but not on desktop, a 7-pack on both, or no 7-pack at all. This is consistent for each city at a given time.

And one month later, after manually tracking daily, things are exactly the same.

For a given keyword I'll be F one day, unranked the next, C the next, and then the 7 pack for the search term will disappear for maybe a few hours or a few days. Rinse and repeat..

If they are performing some type of testing then I haven't the slightest clue what it could be. There's no pattern or consistency at all.

While patiently waiting for things to settle I've stopped taking on new local SEO clients, and I'm starting to contemplate if I should continue providing local SEO at all.

Even though I would still be putting in the same amount of work and implementing the same strategies as I have been, I feel it would be extremely unethical for me to continue selling local SEO without knowing the results I will be able to provide my clients.

Kind of hard to explain to them what's happening to their rankings when no one has a clue what's going on, so it just begs for unhappy clients from the get go.

It's reaching a point now where you can't even come up with a plan of attack for a lot of industries. Just cross your fingers and pray your keywords continue showing a 7-pack, and hopefully one that doesn't shuffle day by day.

I've shifted my business plan to providing more of a complete inbound marketing service, but local is still a huge part of our campaigns. I'm growing more and more worried with the uncertainty of local SEO's future and the future of my agency as a whole.

What do you guys think?
<meta property="og:type" content="article"><meta property="og:title" content="Giving Up Due to Pigeon?"><meta property="og:description" content="That DAMN Bird has this Local Search Consultant Ready to Give up and Stop Taking Clients. See what I tell him">
<meta property="og:image" content="http://media.giphy.com/media/OAU9gxoQe2R1u/giphy.gif">

1904-hard-research-pigeons-impact-local-search-visibility-maplinks.jpg
 

Cody

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Well I'm going to slap myself on the wrist for making a post on impulse without reading more threads first (the entire reason I was at the forum to begin with :eek:)

I somehow managed to miss this http://localsearchforum.catalystema...analysis-new-insights-about-crazy-google.html until almost immediately after I made this post.

Then I head over to the Moz Blog, which I make a point to read daily, and see this was conveniently posted sometime after my visit yesterday.
Pigeon Advice from Top Local SEOs and a Pigeon-Proofing Checklist - Moz

So now that I feel foolish for my redundant post, I guess I'll try to make it a little more useful and share where I'm at after a few hours of reading the forum.


  1. The forum has been added to my bookmarks bar! For some reason I always get lost in the endless amount of sources for SEO info and forget to check here. There's a ton of great information and insights, so thank you Linda, I'll be sure to get more active from here out.
  2. I guess I just happened to have more clients with keywords impacted by the constant flux than most, so it's nice to see that there are still some keywords that aren't total wildcards. Just wish they were my clients ;)
  3. @Linda, awesome job with the datacenter discovery. Early in the update I had a similar theory that it was A-B testing (more like A-B-C-D-E-F-G..) to track analytics and see which algo was best meeting searchers needs, which I have no idea what the indicators would be for that. But it has carried on for so long with no consistency I started to think, although extremely unlikely, that maybe the new update was just extremely awful and based on randomness (maybe to add fairness by giving relevant local businesses equal page 1 exposure?) Either that or Google was just broken. But I'm preparing a letter for my clients that includes your findings to hopefully help them understand the algo a little more. They haven't been too happy with the answer "There's nothing we can do until Google completes the update." Half of them didn't even remember that I informed them an update was coming until I reminded them when they started calling with questions..
  4. To avoid any potential issues or unsatisfied client's I've decided to hold off on accepting new local SEO clients until the dust settles. For those we're already working with I guess the only thing we can do is continue implementing the best practices and really start focusing on organic until the mess is finally over. I've built a relationship with every client and kept them all happy thus far, so hopefully I won't lose anyone. I'm just afraid if the local rankings don't settle soon they may start to question if they even want to continue paying for local SEO services at all. :(
 

Linda Buquet

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Hi Cody,

Thanks for so transparently sharing your thoughts. I'm sure you aren't the only consultant that feels this way!

I totally get it - however I would not stop taking on clients. They still need your help and you still have a lot to offer even though you can't control the outcome right now.

I'd re-read Miriam's checklist at Moz and basically we are all saying keep doing the best practice stuff because once Pigeon settles down to something fair and stable all those things will help in the end.

I would just explain to new prospects upfront that Google is going through a crazy unpredictable update, which means it's a great time to work on all the background stuff that will set you up for success once this algo finished rolling out. Something like that.

If they have violations or screwed up NAP, that still needs to be fixed. If their site is KW stuffed and in Panda danger, that needs to be fixed. If they don't have NAP on every page of site, that still needs to be fixed.

Regardless which way the Pigeon flies, they still have work that needs to be done and who better than you???

If you don't take them on, then what??? They end up with someone less skilled and less honest that just takes their money, doesn't mention Pigeon and doesn't do a good job?

Keep taking clients. Just be honest about the situation. Have you read my puzzle analogy? I'd still use that. Here it is: <a href="http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/local-search/17036-local-search-puzzle-illustrated.html">The Local Search Puzzle - Illustrated</a>

I would just tweak it to say - right now that Kindergartener has dyslexia and is getting a lot of things wrong and messing up a lot. However she'll get better, and once she does, we'll have all your puzzle pieces ready to go.


What do you guys think?
 
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Hi Cody,
They still need your help and you still have a lot to offer even though you can't control the outcome right now.

If they have violations or screwed up NAP, that still needs to be fixed. If their site is KW stuffed and in Panda danger, that needs to be fixed. If they don't have NAP on every page of site, that still needs to be fixed.

Regardless which way the Pigeon flies, they still have work that needs to be done and who better than you???

If you don't take them on, then what??? They end up with someone less skilled and less honest that just takes their money, doesn't mention Pigeon and doesn't do a good job?

Linda nailed it and I totally agree. I also understand where you're coming from. The more listings I saw in the 7-pack that obviously didn't "deserve" those spots made me wonder the same about what I was doing.

But forget a moment about whether or not your client is ranking for a specific query. What about when a User is looking for that Client specifically?! Ensuring that the correct number, website, and address is displayed on their G+ page, yelp listing, YP,etc- that's Local SEO to me!And businesses need that consistency no matter what update comes along.
 
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