consultant

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Have a site and for all our primary keywords coupled with the city name we are in we are #1 on the organic results. We are performing the test searched from a client workstation 3 miles from the business address. So say we are in Seattle, the Google Places for business is within blocks of what Google considers to be the center point for Seattle, WA and we are searching from a employee's home about 3 miles away in Seattle.Up to this point we were not only #1 organic, but number #1 also in the local 3-pack for all our primary keywords. We have 2 5-star reviews and the other 2 competitors in the 3 pack have 0 reviews or sometimes 1 review. We are obviously trying to figure out the most likely local ranking factor(s) that are all of the sudden preventing us from making it into the 3-pack like we were before. We've made no on-page changes. The only thing I can think of is that we were once a week doing the Business Places Posts (a feature Google introduced a few months back) and doing more social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) posts than before. The other thought is we haven't gotten a review in a long time - but as I said so of these other in the 3-pack have NO reviews AND rank lower organically, AND are not physically closer to the client's search location. So my guess is that's the difference but it doesn't seem like those should be very significant LOCAL ranking factors except for the Business Places Posts which it looks like the other competitors are NOT doing anyway!
 

JoyHawkins

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You'll likely see something vastly different if you search from different areas inside Seattle. It's impossible to say what impacted you without knowing the keyword and the searcher location.

Here's a recent case study that shows how much the local results change based on the user searching: How Proximity Impacts Law Firm Rankings in Google Juris Digital
 

Linda Buquet

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So say we are in Seattle, the Google Places for business is within blocks of what Google considers to be the center point for Seattle, WA and we are searching from a employee's home about 3 miles away in Seattle.

Ditto Joy's reply.

Plus so you know, city center is not really a ranking factor any more. It depends on where the searcher is searching from.
 

consultant

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The searches were performed from the exact same location as when the searches were performed and the site was in the 3 pack, so basically the difference in the user's location is not a factor here. In addition we run rank checkers such a GeoRanker in addition to doing manually checks from the same location. So yes, while I agree proximity is one of the most, if not THE most important single factor, it's not really applicable in this case and I wouldn't have taken the time to ask what is a fairly challenging question in the first place if proximity changed. The competitors that have appeared instead, as I mentioned have (a) not gained any new reviews, and (b) having a lower organic position that our site than before. Granted there are other factors that may have changed that it is impossible to know, it is still interesting to discuss the most likely possibilities. As far as proximity, at least in this case, no cigar.

And city center IS relevant as not all searched are searching from a location near the city. I was in Mexico last week and tried some searches of the keywords we monitored with the word "Seattle" added and the results were very close to the results if I typed the same queries if I was physically in Seattle. Not exact of course, but remarkably similar. Of course I wouldn't expect people to realize this who either (a) don't travel much and compare results and/or (b) include the location name in their test queries.
 
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