tracies

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Hi everyone! I live in NY and manage local listings for a mental health treatment center in Sacramento, CA. When I search for phrases such as "mental health centers in Sacramento," my client is almost always in the Top 3. However, when I use tools like LocalViking to see how it's performing for searches in the area, it falls the map pretty quickly. Any thoughts on why this would be and what I can do to improve its performance in the surrounding area -- or are tools like LocalViking not always accurate? Thanks so much in advance for your help.
 

Margaret Ornsby

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Hi @tracies -

This is not uncommon, and it's usually based on Google "learning" what it thinks you're looking for and giving it to you. Google will also give different results when a search is performed from exactly the same spot but on different devices. Remember the algo is designed to give searchers what they want, which is not always the same as "the truth".

The "learning" part comes from Google knowing what your previous searches were on that specific device, and what links you clicked. Google also factors in the type of device, your location (your IP address on your desktop might be different to the IP address on your phone), whether your Google account has a relationship to a business, and a number of other factors in Google's secret sauce.

Local Viking, BrightLocal, Local Falcon and a few other tools that give you the groovy graphs are most likely all using Google's API to show you their results. Their results may vary based on settings you can or can't provide to the tool. Theoretically, the API provides a neutral result - as if you didn't have any relationship to the business.

Another technique I use to get a better indication, is to use a VPN.

And finally, remember Google is forever messing with testing the local packs, so any given listing will fluctuate a bit.

HTH
 

tracies

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Hi @tracies -

This is not uncommon, and it's usually based on Google "learning" what it thinks you're looking for and giving it to you. Google will also give different results when a search is performed from exactly the same spot but on different devices. Remember the algo is designed to give searchers what they want, which is not always the same as "the truth".

The "learning" part comes from Google knowing what your previous searches were on that specific device, and what links you clicked. Google also factors in the type of device, your location (your IP address on your desktop might be different to the IP address on your phone), whether your Google account has a relationship to a business, and a number of other factors in Google's secret sauce.

Local Viking, BrightLocal, Local Falcon and a few other tools that give you the groovy graphs are most likely all using Google's API to show you their results. Their results may vary based on settings you can or can't provide to the tool. Theoretically, the API provides a neutral result - as if you didn't have any relationship to the business.

Another technique I use to get a better indication, is to use a VPN.

And finally, remember Google is forever messing with testing the local packs, so any given listing will fluctuate a bit.

HTH
Thank you so much, that makes a lot of sense!
 
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Hi @tracies - @Margaret Ornsby raises a good point! Google search is personalized. Always run your experiments in incognito mode.

Keep in mind that the query "mental health centers in Sacramento" performed at a distance is not the same as "mental health center" or "mental health center near me" performed by someone in Sacramento. The Chrome extension gs location changer is a great way to see what the search results look like when you're actually in the location.

And I'm pretty sure that these results may be a little different from the map-grid rank trackers because of differences in the zoom level used by the api.

Best to take all ranking results with a grain of salt.
 

Yan Gilbert

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Just to add, the addition of the location 'Sacramento" is telling Google to return results for that specific area. You mention 'surrounding area' in your original post, but if the surrounding area is no longer within the Sacramento boundaries, then this will be influencing the results as well when you explicitly add 'Sacramento' to the search..

Also, Local Falcon no longer uses the GMB API for data gathering. It uses actual searches on Google. Pretty sure the other trackers do the same at this point as well.
 

UKSBD

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Just to add, the addition of the location 'Sacramento" is telling Google to return results for that specific area. You mention 'surrounding area' in your original post, but if the surrounding area is no longer within the Sacramento boundaries, then this will be influencing the results as well when you explicitly add 'Sacramento' to the search..

Also, Local Falcon no longer uses the GMB API for data gathering. It uses actual searches on Google. Pretty sure the other trackers do the same at this point as well.

I've always used the &uule=w+CAIQICI method with my tools and add in &pws=0 for personalisation.

It's never accurate as there are so many other things Google take in to consideration too, but it's a good way of getting a rough idea of what others see, especially on Maps
 

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