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This is something that has always baffled me, sometimes I will see my site rank organically above maps listings for "keyword" other times it will slip back down to much lower on the page. I have played around with a few things and tried to figure out what would help it stay there but had no luck.

One thing I do find is that if it is not my site ranking there it will be a major national brand that would normally rank for "keyword" with or without local intent.

I am somewhat inclined to think this is just the fluctuation of the algorithm, (i.e. certain days they have the local intent meter dialed up, other days not so much). I wanted to see if anyone else had any experience with this, and if they had any conclusions they would be willing to pass along.
 

Nick.SEOSpark

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Re: ranking organically for keyword w/out city

Hey - good idea to bring this discussion up as it is important.

I'd recommend reading this thread on the Venice update from last year for some insight:

Understand and Rock the Google Venice Update | SEOmoz

Since the Venice update, local has been pushed in all sorts of new ways and admittedly, I find the landscape confusing as well. You can be picked up for a seemingly competitive keyword like "divorce attorney" (see thread) as local has been pushed further, and locations are grabbed to give the best results to serches. - - I sometimes get picked up for the "seo" keyword - presumably as someone in my local city is searching for SEO. :eek::confused::)

I personally think that all of the above detail makes "keyword rankings" a very tough thing to use as a KPI - there's just so many types of ranking now.

Places Scout does a good of keeping track of the various results (including grabbing custom locations) but there is now Soooo much to track!

https://www.placesscout.com/
 
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