Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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When a client wants to know why their ranking dropped, it can be a very tough question to answer.

The Google Local algo is infinitely complicated. Now that organic is such a big part of the algo I think there are likely over 300 factors that go into it - when you combine the all the organic factors with all the local factors.

So if you are trying to figure out or have to explain why rankings dropped it can be difficult to say.
OR on the other hand if you are trying to figure out WHICH of the many factors that you worked on contributed to the ranking increase it can be uber tricky as well.

Mike Blumenthal just did a great post in answer to the question:
"Can a Citation Campaign Cause a Drop in Google Local Rankings?"

He goes into all the other ranking factors that could have attributed to the drop. PLUS goes into detail about some of the delays in the time it takes citations to hit and update in the local database. And he too stresses how much more complicated it is now with all the organic factors, Panda, Penguin and various local penalties that could be at play in any specific situation.

He closes by saying:   "Search results are a multifaceted and complex animal. Just because a person takes an action A and sees an outcome C doesn’t mean that there is a causal relation. They could be related but in this case it strains credulity to think that they are." Which pretty much sums it up!

Really worth a read AND a bookmark. I'd use Mike's post, if I still had clients, to try to help explain any ranking changes if a client had concerns - because it's right on!

I replied to Mike's post and added:

"The Local search algo is like a giant complicated puzzle. You can add some pieces (new citations) but then other factors can happen at around the same time, like getting dinged on the organic side for links OR competitors adding MORE new puzzle pieces than you did. Then when you add in the time delay between action and reaction, it can make it really hard to know exactly what’s causing ranking drops OR increases for that matter."

One other major local ranking problem I don't think he mentioned is duplicate listings. Dupes in local can be a ranking killer. And hidden merged dupes you didn't even know about and can't even see can be too. (Now that the G+ Local categories are hidden or busted - whichever the case may be - it's harder to find and diagnose hidden merged dupes - which kinda sucks!)

So the ANSWER to the question "Why did my ranking drop?"
The answer of course is... it depends...

We can only guess without digging in to find out more. If you have a drop and want help to try to figure out what happened, post details in the help section of the forum below and let some of our local pros dig for clues and see if they can help!

Are there any other major reasons for a ranking drop Mike missed?
I think he did a great job of covering most of them.

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Top Poster Of Month
Jul 26, 2012
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Great write-up, Linda. Thanks for posting!

I definitely agree about dupes being a huge cause ? perhaps the most common cause of sudden drop-offs (in my humble experience).

Actually, Mike did mention dupes as a factor - down in point #5 (where he says ?fifthly?). Definitely a point worth paying serious attention to, though.

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
Reaction score
Oh you're right Phil, he did mention dupes. Thanks, I missed that.

Thanks for stopping by and weighing in.
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