More threads by sixthcitysarah

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Hi all,

I was hoping to see if anyone else has been seeing changes in the local pack over the past week?

My team and I have been seeing tons of new businesses, that were not in the local pack before, all ranking ahead of others. And the only thing they have in common is a high level of reviews.

Keyword stuffers are still ranking up there as well, but the newcomers with high reviews don't even have their main category as the most relevant to the search. (Ex: Website Designers are ranking for SEO terms above all other Internet Marketing Providers/Marketing Agencies that used to rank)

I know Google released another product reviews update on Dec 1, but in the past, I don't believe it was ever noted to impact local as well.

Curious on everyone's thoughts!
 
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In addition to proximity, are you finding any factors that are relevant right now?

One thing I noticed is that many profiles, without verification, ratings and images started to rank in some regions, a possible strategy would be to request removal, since apparently they are inactive places.
 
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I'm seeing SAB listings (listings with no address) impacted but I'm also seeing listings with addresses hugely impacted as well so I wouldn't say one was impacted more than the other.

I think you mentioned this before (either here or in your article) but are you seeing increases in filtering at all? With businesses located at the same office buildings that are in the same industry?
 

JoyHawkins

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I think you mentioned this before (either here or in your article) but are you seeing increases in filtering at all? With businesses located at the same office buildings that are in the same industry?

I'm seeing filter changes in the sense that a business that was filtered before is now ranking and one that was ranking is now filtered. I think the main trigger for the case I was looking at was the one business had keywords in the business name which was helping them avoid the filter. That is no longer the case and one of their competitors in their building is ranking instead.
 

Theo1313

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I work for service-based biz (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) and have seen a huge drop, about 45% since the beginning of December. Our company is one of the largest in the area with a very well known brand name and local trust (been in biz over 55 years). I work all the time making sure our site, GMB, reviews (4.8 stars), and everything else is in tip-top shape and honest. I check all the boxes and totally white-hat. Here is just one chart from our GMB to illustrate the update's effect. Side note on the chart, I cannot figure out why there were zero data recorded from Dec 10 through Dec 13.

Screenshot 2021-12-21 133753.jpg

Couple of notes to add:
  • We do not have keywords in our business name
  • We have one office in the middle of our service area, which is about half the state
 
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BisnarChase

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Interesting side note after reading all these comments re: personal injury attorneys - we thought a competitor was trying to change our name as it was attempted 4 times in 14 days -- during the same update period. Our keyword IS our legal LLC name, but this update has me thinking maybe Google was attempting it assuming it was a stuffed keyword. Odd timing to say the least.

Also, strange, Joy said she saw it affect businesses with the keyword in their name, but our GA is showing us going up and up over the last 30 days. Typically our traffic is up, down every other day but starting Nov 18th to now, not one down day. Knock on wood, of course :)
 

Theo1313

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@Theo1313 how does your actions graph look? I would pay more attention to that than views.
Actions (see below) aren't as drastic but since I am personally so in-tune with our site, emails flowing in, calls, chats, etc., I can feel a rather large decline overall.

I have always worked hard to make sure we are doing everything possible, all the best practices, being honest, and just doing everything right. The same can be said about our business (family-owned). So this update has been the most troubling in a really long time. I am hoping the waves settle and level out.

Screen Shot 2021-12-21 at 3.06.27 PM.jpg
PS. As always, thanks for all your work and for being involved.
 

rgblocal

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I work for service-based biz (HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical) and have seen a huge drop, about 45% since the beginning of December. Our company is one of the largest in the area with a very well known brand name and local trust (been in biz over 55 years). I work all the time making sure our site, GMB, reviews (4.8 stars), and everything else is in tip-top shape and honest. I check all the boxes and totally white-hat. Here is just one chart from our GMB to illustrate the update's effect. Side note on the chart, I cannot figure out why there were zero data recorded from Dec 10 through Dec 13.

Screenshot 2021-12-21 133753.jpg

Couple of notes to add:
  • We do not have keywords in our business name
  • We have one office in the middle of our service area, which is about half the state
This might make sense if smaller local businesses are now rising to the top. Are you using a grid tracking tool? Might be helpful to see who is making moves.
 
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I'm seeing filter changes in the sense that a business that was filtered before is now ranking and one that was ranking is now filtered. I think the main trigger for the case I was looking at was the one business had keywords in the business name which was helping them avoid the filter. That is no longer the case and one of their competitors in their building is ranking instead.

For us, we are in the same office building as our top competitor (arguably one of the most popular/known marketing agencies with a large presence in the U.S.) and we always shared the local pack with them. But after the update, we completely dropped off and they have stayed on, as did another local spammer. We don't use keywords, but they both do. So this update is just hard to understand, we haven't been able to recover anything. But was thinking maybe since their profile is stronger and we "share" and address, we may be getting filtered.
 

JoyHawkins

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@seosemsocial I have done 2 write ups on it thusfar with some observations:

 
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Just wondering what the upshot of this thread is now: 1-5-2022.

Are reviews now a ranking factor?
Thanks

a week or so before I posted this I saw some fluctuations happening that seemed to show businesses I never saw rank before that had insanely high review counts/ratings, but it didn't stick! figure it was part of the wave of the update rollout
 

Blueviolet38

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I'm still finding this update extremely difficult to understand. Pretty much every company across every city that was previously in the three-pack has been demoted.

The companies that are ranking are lower quality across the board.

Is there any information available about where SABs were hit by this update?

I am going to build more local links for my clients to see does it help. Does this seem like a sensible strategy or are local links not connected?
 

monopolists

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Here is one example I'm seeing in the home services vertical. Companies with exact keywords in their name are now taking up 2 of the 3 top spots in Maps. I know in some verticals/markets companies with keywords in their name were demoted after the update, but not in this example.

Three strong listings were all demoted out of this 3-pack and replaced by turd listings.

furnace-repair-denver-maps-3pack--1102022.jpg
 

JoyHawkins

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Companies with exact keywords in their name are now taking up 2 of the 3 top spots in Maps. I know in some verticals/markets companies with keywords in their name were demoted after the update, but not in this example.

There are still keyword-rich listings ranking all over the place. The update didn't change that - it just severely shrunk the radius for how far away they rank. So now, if you have keywords in the business name it no longer makes it so you can rank across an entire city - what users see when they search is a lot more varied based on how far away they are from the business in the search results.
 

Theo1313

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Pretty sure it basically just shrank the radius in general, regardless. I think that is why they call it the vicinity update.

For service-based businesses, it has not been great but I am sure for local coffee shops it has been great. I am still hoping for some kind of rebalancing because every day I still see a negative in search and maps views. Not sure what more I can do because I was already doing every best practice there is in the book and beyond. Other than opening more locations in every country, I guess some of us have to accept the loss and hope for other streams to pop up.
 

itstaymc

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It definitely shook up personal injury. I have had clients in the top 2 for the last few years going to 8 and 13. The top results that are showing do not make any sense. I am hoping for a correction soon.

This happened to us (PI law firm in Las Vegas) our traffic dropped from 4800 views per month to MAYBE 1200. Our competitors with a higher review count (who are further away in proximity) now appear before we do. I'm really hoping it reverts.
 

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