Oct 5, 2017
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I'm helping a home improvement company that ranks well for its target phrases in a major metropolitan area. In Google Local (Maps) it's nowhwere near as strong; for instance, for phrases where it ranks in the first or top few places in Organic, it'll be low on page one or on page two in Maps. (This is when searching from the suburb in which it has a location)

The biggest difference in positions between Organic and Maps seems to apply when the search term includes the geo-modifier of the main target city. It only seems to rank well for key terms in searches from its own suburbs, and does a bit better for searches without the main city geo-modifier.

The website includes the city name on the homepage title (and content), and on various titles and pages across the site. It's not in the header or footer. The city is not part of the name of the business - the address is business name, street, suburb, post code, state - so doesn't include the name of the city.

Proximity-wise, the company's locations are in the "greater" city itself, but between 10 and 25km from the centroid that Google tends to favour; there are several other businesses that aren't as strong organically, and further from the centre of the city (or searcher's location), but still rank well above it for key terms in Maps.

I wondered if the issue might be Possum related - the company has three branches in different suburbs of the main target city. Only one of those shares an address with another business, but that business is in a completely unrelated niche.

I've also noticed that when you zoom in or out of the initial Maps result this company will typically jump from its low position to either the top, or top few positions. I've read elsewhere that this might suggest some kind of filter on the result.

There are three GMB listings, each with same business name but separate address and local phone number. Each page points to the company website homepage. Citations, as far as I can tell, are pretty consistent and accurate across each of the three locations.

Any insight on what might be happening here would be greatly appreciated.


Colan Nielsen

LocalU Faculty
Jul 19, 2012
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Hey @Adab Would you be able to share the business as well as the search term(s) you are troubleshooting?

It's impossible to troubleshoot without those. By the way you describe the issue it sounds like it's a proximity and physical location challenge as they relate to explicit versus implicit queries (city modifier vs no city modifier).


Sep 14, 2018
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Hi Adab,

Something that i have found is to add or optimize pages for specific services or longer tail keywords. In this case, if someone is searching for "home improvement", you can try to optimize for "best home improvement" on one of the pages of the website and I've seen this to have an effect on local searches.

In this specific case, I had an orthodontist that I optimized for best orthodontist and the next day they were first on local. (granted not very scientific and it doesn't have a 100% result for us when we do this across our clients, but in that case it was great!)

I will say that this only affects specific services and longer keyword phrases, this won't directly help the high volume 1 or 2 word keywords. However, if you want some small wins, just to get morale going, it's nice to get in google local for longer keyword phrases.

I'm joining this thread though to see if there is any other input.


Oct 5, 2017
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Hi - thanks very much for the feedback. If I can get permission to share any details publicly, I'll do so. Cheers
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