More threads by find8


Aug 5, 2015
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I have a client that in only showing up in branded search but not for any keywords in Google local search. However, this client is doing very well in Bing Local search results for the same keywords. This is leading us to believe that Google has placed a penalty on the listing but I can't figure out exactly why there would be a penalty.

Theory 1: In the past there was a duplicate Google listing but I believe it is resolved now... There was a business partner who split and started their own business but left a Google listing using my client's business address. I contacted support and had the duplicate listing marked as "moved" to the new location. I am worried that this could have still caused distrust in Google's eyes as there are possibly still a few smaller citations floating around with both my client and the old business partners names together.

Theory 2: My client owns the entire building where his office is located. One of his actual paying customers lives in the apartments just above his office. This customer tried to leave a Google review for my client but she used the same wifi network as my client's business, since it is the same network throughout the building. Google did not allow the review to be published (probably because the location looked suspicious). Now, I am wondering if that could have contributed to a penalty...?

I believe we have done everything we can to optimize the Google listing and the client's website. We are at a dead-end and need help figuring out what could be causing this issue. Please let me know if you have any theories or suggestions!! Thanks
A review issue like you mentioned wouldn't get your rankings hit with a penalty, at most it would just get that client's review removed. Citation issues could cause problems, but a cursory glance at least makes it look like you've done your work well enough.

What you're looking at isn't a penalty, it's a filter. Possum, specifically. There's a number of changes that hit September 1st with the Possum update (the thread I linked to above, along with Joy's article linked to from the thread are good primers) but the gist, Google's started being more selective about what it shows in the local finder results. You can tell it's Possum, because if you zoom in or out, or change the center of the map at all, McCoy pops into the results.

One of the big things Possum filters out are a bunch of results all in the same building, or few block area. It looks like all the lawyers in Lafayette are in a 6 block part of the city, so I'm not too surprised a lot of them are being filtered. I did a quick survey for criminal justice attorney Lafayette, here's what I found:

Gibson Law Office
Hall-Justice Law Firm
(f) Graham
(f) McCoy
(f) Bruce
(f) Sandy
(f) Katz
(f) Kirk Freeman
(f) BB&C
(f) Timothy Broden
Ball Eggleston
(f) Walker

I wrote an (f) by all the listings that only appear after moving the map around a bit.

I'm not 100% clear yet why Google filters out some listings and not others. It usually happens if you have two related businesses (two lawyers, for example) in the same building. Only one will ever show, but I've seen the filter as well when you have a tight grouping of similar businesses in the same region of the city, my guess is that's what's happening here. For the most part, the way to break the filter is to climb up the rankings. You'll likely knock someone else into the filter once you get your client out of it.

If this was my client, I'd focus on backlink building. You'll notice that Gibson and Hall both have their home page ranking high on the first page, and O'brien is top of the second page. McCoy is midway down on page 3, and the backlink profile is pretty poor. Boosting your organic ranking is one of the more important things you can spend time on for local rankings, and it's definitely the weak spot for McCoy.

Hope that helps, good luck!
You are absolutely right! I will start working on backlink building asap. Thank you so much for your help!!
I took a look and it's not an organic penalty so I imagine James is right. Good work J!

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