Jody Thomas

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Hi guys, would really appreciate some help with the following problem. For a couple of years my listing here has remained top position in the local listings for the keyword phrases driving instructor, driving lessons and driving school all in the location of Tunbridge Wells. I had very little organic presence, certainly not on the first page. Last week when checking the listing, I realised that my local listing had completely dropped off and been replaced by a number one position in the organic rankings. Has anybody got any idea why this has happened? It's not ideal as my local listing contains multiple reviews that I have built up over the previous couple of years. I do remember this happening once before but it changed back within a few hours. Any help would be much appreciated, many thanks.
 

Linda Buquet

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Yes it happens a lot I have a unique case I was thinking about posting about too.

I call this a disconnected listing. Should rank in "blended A, B, C" but instead pops out as a pure organic.

Most common reasons:

1) Some type of confusion by Google between the web site and the Place page. For instance if the site only had 800 # and Place page had local - so NAP did not match.

2) Duplicate Place pages. Google gets confused, does not know which to match up, so drops you out of local and does not match any up.

3) Violations on the Place page. So you drop out of local but still show in organic (only if the web site SEO is strong)

4) Proximity - This is a factor that I'm starting to see come back into play.

On your listing you have several problems. Any one of them could be the culprit.

1) DUPLICATE - You can't have 2 listings for the same business even if you change the name and phone ESPECIALLY if you are a service area business. Are both of these at the same address? Driving School 16 Woodland Close Tunbridge Wells, Kent - Google Maps

2) Description - Google does not like All the Words Capped Like That!

3) I'd fix your service area. You picked a bunch of cities which could water down your ranking in the main city AND it put your marker out in the trees. Change that setting to just your city only with no zip code or postal code or whatever it's called there. Just city. Then it will put your marker right in middle of town.

4) Categories? I can't see them. Can you copy and list here so we can check for violations?

5) Web site - possible mix up with phone. I think Google tries to match up the phone that's in the 1st field. That phone # does not match the # on the web site the 2nd one does. Don't want to change the phone on your Place page. You could lose rankings and all your reviews. IS THAT YOUR MAIN LOCAL #? If so, then just add in small font at bottom of your website for Google.
 

Jody Thomas

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Hi Linda

Thanks so much for looking into this for me - it was a bit of a surprise after years of having no problems. I'll try and address each point you made:

1) - These are 2 separate businesses although I do need to update the websites to reflect this, jodythomasdriving is to be manual only whilst the other will be auto driving only. There are separate addresses for each, 16 Woodland Close for the auto and 22 Lansdowne Road for manual. We do receive customers at each location for theory help and a BTEC in driving course but felt it best to hide the addresses so as not to receive a penalty from Google.

2) Will fix that - I must have set it up like that years ago!

3) Ok I will fix that too, I was wondering why the location marker was there on the map when I hid my address - will follow the steps you suggest.

4) My categories in my dashboard are as follows: Driving School, Driving Instructor, Driving Lessons, Pass Plus and Driving Tuition.

5) I'm a bit confused here - I realise I have a mobile at the top of my website but in the footer under '22 Lansdowne Road' I have both numbers. Are you saying that I should put my 01892 number at the top of my website? Sorry if I've misunderstood.

I may be wrong here but I'm thinking that the problem may have arisen from my website itself as I changed it around 3 or 4 months ago. Also, and I'm probably way off the mark here, but coincidentally I dropped of the local listings last week at the same time that I changed my website to a new host - surely that is coincidence? Before this prob I've probably been in the top local spot for 3 - 4 years so do you think it's likely the problem has arisen from website changes?

Thanks again for your help Linda, it's very much appreciated
 

Linda Buquet

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Ya you can have violations or problems for a long time, then the algo changes and picks up that problem and you get penalized.

4) Driving Lessons is a violation
"Pass Plus and Driving Tuition" if that's how it's listed in one category slot is a violation.

Only the 1st 2 categories you listed are valid. Categories must be what business IS not what it does, sells or offers.

5) Sorry when I just barely have a minute to spare to look here in between paid consults, I can't go deep and do thorough analysis of everything. Only saw the mismatch on top of site.

Now that you pointed me down it's an even bigger problem. All those addresses and phone numbers (Mixed NAP) at bottom of site could really cause problems.

SITE - Usually if you still rank high organic but drop out of local, the issue is on the Places side of the house. If it was an organic problem you'd not be #1 organic.

HOWEVER I have a client that disconnected like this and have been analyzing 2 other listings it happened to as well and they don't have ANY problems I can find. And with the client - one competitor got disconnected, then was back in the pack. Then another same thing, now it's back in the pack. And now the listing that WAS A and my client who WAS B are BOTH DISCONNECTED. So I think something weird may be up. It's almost like she's rotating results or something.
 

Colan Nielsen

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4) Categories? I can't see them. Can you copy and list here so we can check for violations?

Mike posted a fantastic tip on his blog the other day which would make it possible to see some of the hidden categories for SAB's. It was originally brought to Mike's attention by Keenan.

It works like a charm and it's an amazing tip from Keenan. Props.

- During LocalU I received an inquiry from a local SEO that wanted to report some spammy service area businesses but as you may or may not know, since SABs have been pulled out of MapMaker, the report a problem link does not work. The solution? (thanks to Keenan Glass for this tip.) Search for the business on the main page results and click on the “Feedback” link at the bottom of the Knowledge panel. This sends reports directly to the Google quality team rather than into MapMaker. (cool)

Google Local Tidbits from LocalU and Beyond | Understanding Google Places & Local Search

---------- Post Merged at 05:19 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 05:16 PM ----------

When you click on the FEEDBACK link it takes you to the same page that Edit Business Details does on a brick and mortar listing.
 

Linda Buquet

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Ooh Ahh! Thanks Colan. I DID see that and promptly forgot it. Plus so many issues to document on this one and SLAMMED for time, so thought I'd just ask. Got major major stuff that will help everyone I should be working on right now.

But thanks for the reminder! Need to write that down on my cheat sheet! :p
 

Linda Buquet

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Mike posted a fantastic tip on his blog the other day which would make it possible to see some of the hidden categories for SAB's. It was originally brought to Mike's attention by Keenan.

It works like a charm and it's an amazing tip from Keenan. Props.

- During LocalU I received an inquiry from a local SEO that wanted to report some spammy service area businesses but as you may or may not know, since SABs have been pulled out of MapMaker, the report a problem link does not work. The solution? (thanks to Keenan Glass for this tip.) Search for the business on the main page results and click on the “Feedback” link at the bottom of the Knowledge panel. This sends reports directly to the Google quality team rather than into MapMaker. (cool)

Google Local Tidbits from LocalU and Beyond | Understanding Google Places & Local Search

---------- Post Merged at 05:19 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 05:16 PM ----------

When you click on the FEEDBACK link it takes you to the same page that Edit Business Details does on a brick and mortar listing.

You are right. Works like a charm! Thanks so much for that reminder. And thank you Keenan. This will come in SOOOO handy.


Except categories are different than what she told me they are on this one. So there could be a merge or she could be looking at the wrong listing or changed them on Map Maker or something. No idea and I'm out of time to try to diagnose this one any more.
 

Jody Thomas

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Ok thanks for that. So I'm guessing its best to just have two categories for my listing, 'driving school' and 'driving instructor', and delete the others that describe what we do rather than what we are? Nick, who I know is a big contributor on here, is looking after my website and regarding the footer subscribed to the 'if it isn't broke don't fix it' way of thinking, but do you think it best to just have the main office address in the footer and have separate location pages for the other addresses?
 

Nick Rink

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If you've got multiple locations then I would say build separate landing pages for each of them and just have your main address and phone number in the site footer. Add some markup (Schema.org) and some relevant local information and that should work nicely.
 

Dave

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Jody:

I'd give it some time and monitor your traffic. It could turn up more visits. It gives you top ranking and separate from others.

I also have another idea with regard to this change. I've followed certain websites over the years. Some of them had very strong signals in both areas, standard SEO and local.

Over time I've seen an smb in a category with many competitors stand out above competitors in google first page results in a number of ways: This has occurred over many years...going back before the PAC was around.

Over the past two years it had rankings on a variety of phrases including its city and its service (with different phrases on the service) in which either it ranked organically above the PAC and/or at other times at #1 inside the PAC.

BTW: I've checked. That business gets a lot of leads.

I've noticed other smb's moving in and out of the PAC over time. I'm thinking of sites with strong sets of signals on both areas (local and high volumes of citations--and targeted SEO with many links)

I just checked and saw changed situations on a number of sites the other day in that regard...essentially strong sites moving in or out of the PAC and in or out of an above the PAC organic ranking.

Having seen it with different SMB's in different types of businesses in different cities I'm thinking Google might have made a change on some ranking elements.

Again...I've seen this yo yo kind of ranking over a long period of time.

I'm guessing that google periodically changes some features in ranking that affects some smb's with strong signals.

To me it might be just varying the picture and presentation over time. I think of it as not unlike when google changes the size and scope of its geographical coverage: Sometimes limiting the area to city limits and sometimes expanding the area to both the city and closer in suburbs and/or suburbs around a ring highway around the city. When the scope of the geographical coverage changes the smb's inside the PAC change. SMB's with suburban address can get included in the PAC for search phrases that have city/service. When the geo coverage is limited to the city the suburban smb's don't get into the PAC for searches with city/service.

That kind of phenomena has occurred quite a bit over time and has been noted and commented upon, including by Linda (and others).

Joday: See what your traffic is like. It could be better.

Of all the issues out there...that isn't one I'd really worry about....--> things could be much worse. :D

Dave
 

Jody Thomas

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Hi Dave, thanks for your input. You're absolutely correct, things could be a lot worse and it does seem that this shift has happened due to a change in the algo. The only real negative for me is the fact my reviews are no longer showing on the search result, something I think that stood me apart from the crowd (I've gained around 48 over the years compared to my nearest rival with 4). However looking into it, I have noticed that I'm actually in the H position on the local search result, so if I can get myself up a few places this change will be a positive as I'll have both first page organic and local results! Thanks again
 

Dave

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Jody:

You have a testimonial page. Does it get much traffic?

I'd reference it from the page that is highest ranked and gets the most traffic.

Frankly I'd copy some or all of the google+ reviews and place them on the site referencing the google + page.

As long as your site is ranked as highly as it is I think you are more or less in the "driver's seat" (pun intended).

But the test of time is to measure traffic before and after the change out of the top of the PAC. If you run adwords on a local basis you can really drill down, not only on traffic but on what percentage of traffic you are getting out of all the search phrases appropriate in your region.
 
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