Google Local Business Center: Why your impressions might drop to 0%

A question that occasionally crops up in the forums is why would your Local Business Center dashboard all of a sudden show 0 impressions for your business listing in Google Maps?

Nick Thomas, who has worked extensively in the Local Business Center, sent along his observations that identifies the likely cause:

One interesting oddity is when I see a listing with 0 impressions and a few actions. After review of about 300 of these cases now I have determined that the most likely cause of the 0 impressions is a duplicate listing in Google Maps.

Most of the time these duplicate listings are not claimed in GLBC accounts and can be simply placed as ‘removal request duplicate place’. Then after a few weeks the impressions jump into the hundreds if not thousands in the claimed GLBC account. Just thought you would like to know and pass along to others….

statszero

The explanation and example that Nick sent along makes perfect sense. Essentially, for one reason or another (perhaps a slight change in a business title as in the example above), Google’s clustering algo is unable merge a listing received from a trusted provider with the listing in the LBC and gives that other listing preference in the index.

Rather than deleting the extra listing via community edit, I would recommend removing the duplicate record via Google’s suggested method. Nick’s technique will work, but Google’s gprovides more visible information as to the status of the merge.

This problem is more likely to occur the more that your listing varies in critical details from those for your business across the local ecosystem that Google relies on.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Local Business Center: Why your impressions might drop to 0% by

31 thoughts on “Google Local Business Center: Why your impressions might drop to 0%”

  1. Mike-
    That is great information and I am dealing with a couple listings that are like that currently.

    I have a question to ask you though. I have a listing that we moved up to a high position and then some how the listing title was changed, most of the information I submitted (such as pics) disappeared, the address changed to a dead spot with nothing there, and the phone number stayed the same. So, they were still getting the calls from the listing and it was still going to their website, but I have lost control of the listing. I tried to edit the title and address through the community edit and it didn’t have any effect. So, the other day I went through the listings and my original listing that was 3rd is now pushed back to about page 7. So, it has been duplicated and relegated.

    I haven’t had that experience before and wondered your thoughts.

  2. Another thing to consider is that there may be delays in the aggregation of reporting for a listing. I’ve seen reports showing 0 impressions for a particular recent date, and then a few days later that same date will show impressions. So there could be a few layers/passes of reporting being passed into the LBC reports, and the instances of 0 impressions could just be reflecting a lag in the reporting.

    On the issue of actions being reported, I have some listings showing what I consider to be a very high rate of driving directions actions, with the majority of the DD requests coming from unspecified locations (i.e., the “Other” field in the DD report).

  3. @Mike Ramsey
    WIthout looking at the listings and having a better understanding of what happened I can’t really say.

    @Mike Bunnell
    I think you are tight that there is some lags in reporting but that could also reflect the status of two listings prior to Google merging them.

  4. I have a friend that has literally lost all their business listings this week – they just sign in to their account and it appears to have been hijacked however they only listed it few days ago and so I thought if someone had indeed merged with them it would take a week at least? I’m confused how can he be hijacked listing in such a short time u can actually see about 5 numbers where these people had actually been experimenting on overtaking his listing its weird!

  5. I’ve seen cases when Impressions dropped to zero in LBC where one of my clients did something that got them penalized.

    They previously ranked high in Google Maps and the Local 10-Pack for some popular terms in their area, but they suddenly dropped off the first page of results in Maps and 10-Pack, so naturally their Impressions and Actions dropped along with their rankings.

    I believe this was an algorithmic penalization, and their access to the LBC was not at all frozen. After I diagnosed probable cause, they asked me to correct it. I went in, fixed a couple of spammy things within their listing, and within about one day it popped back up to an even better listing ranking – #1 for their most-important keyword combos.

    I’d previously warned them about some of the content in their Maps listing profile, but they kept it as-is until they actually got penalized.

  6. Hi Chris

    Thanks for stopping by. I just ran across a case which seems to confirm what you are saying.

    I am curious if you could share in a broad sense, the techniques that appeared to be penalized?

  7. Using Categories to contain overly spammy text strings appeared to be the main issue. After cleaning up these by replacing them with real business category names, the client’s site popped back up in rankings and actually rose to top position for their main keyword/geography combination.

    Thanks go in large part to you, Mike, for providing your post from late May which charts out what part of Google Maps guidelines had changed:

    http://blumenthals.com/blog/2009/05/28/google-maps-guidelines-what-has-changed/

    I think I would’ve eventually figured this out, but your outlining exactly what had changed sped up my analysis considerably!

    So, thank you!

  8. One additional cause for traffic to drop off in the LBC charts: I believe I’ve seen times when clients’ traffic dropped to zero because Google may’ve been a little behind in processing their analytics data. Within about one day, the traffic charts showed results whereas they previously did not.

    I’ve seen this same issue occur before from a few different companies which specialize in web analytics services. Having tons of data pouring into data warehouses requires considerable sophistication in order to process and make available rapidly. Analytics in LBC is not at all as critical a function as having Maps and Search available, so it would naturally be a slightly lower priority. Since the LBC metric charts are still relatively new, I think that these occasional lapses in data availability may have been indications of growing pains within this section of Google.

  9. Regarding category spam that’s not getting automagically dinged: I suspect that it’s possible that category text fields which are longer than average might attract a manual review or auto-penalization. Short yet spammy categories might not attract penalization.

    One of the most common issues we used to see when I worked in internet yellow pages was what we referred to as “heading jumping”, wherein businesses would attempt to be listed in inappropriate categories for themselves. For instance, having a mail-order cheese company try to get listed in “restaurants” or having gambling casinos trying to appear under “Cigars”.

  10. Chris:

    Here is a search: Learn Italian Los Angeles

    Note the results for any of the Language Door listings:
    Category: Spanish Classes, Finnish Classes, German Classes, Greek Classes, Hebrew Classes, Hindi Classes, Hungarian Classes, Indonesian Classes, Italian Classes

    Those look pretty long and in violation of the guidelines and have not apparently been

  11. I recently had someone tell me it was too much trouble to go through the process of deleting duplicate listings. I ought to send him this post :)

    Great explanation here, Mike, and kudos to Nick Thomas.

  12. I didn’t know what there was a 10 pack until a few months ago and when I found out set out to “improve things”.

    I recently added two local business listings for two new trade names I registered and I believe at the time I deleted my original listing. My website page rank dropped to 0 a month or so later. It did not seem to effect my SERP however. The local 10 pack rank went up on both new names immediately but recently it was evident they had been merged. The content was different so I made the categories the same on each one and the content pretty close.

    Then I became aware google frowned on multiple listings and suspended the listing name that was not showing as high up on google maps.-it was a combination of a few key words and the original listing I had not really been aware of in past years. Within an hour I was off the 10 pack and not on the first page of the organic listings. I reactivated the first new name I had suspended and suspended the second. Now everything is great-but—–the 10 pack is showing the listing name I now have suspended. It isn’t really important which one it uses but the currently suspended name includes part of my new active web page name which is why I figured it was doing better to start out with. The current activated listing, like the suspended one is not linked to this web site but a pre-existing commercial template older site I have little control over. It has gone from 0 to 1.

    I do have another business link with a different address, different phone number currently linked to the web site I am actively managing. Many of my peers do this but have been able to use the same address and web site.

    To compound it, the currently re-activated site has a miss-spelling on the address with a duplicated letter on the street address. The suspended link is correct.

    So I have reasonably good ranking in the 10 pack, good organic, the suspended name showing up and no idea what to do if anything. I realize I should have stuck with one instead of two but like I mentioned, many of my peers have used two for years and I thought I could learn what pulled best. I don’t want to see everything fall of the page next month. I am presuming in merging the accounts they used the name from one and the information from the other. If it stays suspended will it stay that way? Any ideas or suggestions? Would google penalize my page rank for something like this?

    Thanks,
    *Never too old to find new ways of making mistakes!

  13. wow…this can be a frustrating process. I had to search through multiple pages to find out if there was an actual duplicate of my business (Which I did eventually find). I’ve requested the confirmation again & am really crossing my fingers that this is the step that it takes to get things cleaned up? Thanks for the info!!!

  14. Has anyone seen anything like this?

    I just saw a problem with my listing today. Can’t say how long it’s been “hiccuped.” I check my local listing regularly to see if I am keeping my top ranking, but I don’t think I have actually clicked on it in the last couple weeks.

    I am still in the top 3 for various local searches for mortgage xxx, but when clicking the “reviews” link to go to the overview page, everything below the “Categories” (don’t like this new addition showing) and “Hours” is missing. I get a long blank page beneath.

    All mention of other web pages, coupons, videos, details, photos, etc, are gone. Email address no longer visible.

    Searchers can click on my site link or click to read the reviews, but that’s it.

    I logged in to my LBC and found impressions dropped to zero. I guess I’m confused about the definition of impressions because I still show up in the main Local Search results pages, so how can that be zero impressions? Also got 2 customer calls today – from Local Search.

    Kinda scary. Looks like I have been hit with a Google slap for some reason. But I am confused then why I still show in the results. If I have been slapped, then why not take me out completely?

    Ugh !!!!! Anyone else notice this?

  15. Impressions (how many views of your business on Google – not click thrus for more/web/direction) can sometimes sit at 0 for a day or two until Google’s indexes catch up with themselves. I wouldn’t worry if it has been a short period.

    The lack of detailed information COULD be due to the upgrade to Places…again time will tell. I would wait a week or two and see if either or both return to normal. In the meantime stay away from those subprime jobbies.:)

  16. Thanks Mike. Great info and insight here. I have such a love/hate affair with Google.

    Much work has gone into my Local Listing since April and I want to stay at the top. Thankfully, most mortgage people (probably 99%) have completely missed the boat on Local Search, so it ain’t that difficult. I need to market this to mortgage folks. Hmmmm

    Haven’t done a subprime since last week. :-)

  17. Meant to say Mike, I am extremely uncomfortable that I can’t find another listing that comes up with a blank page like that.

    Still listed, but not showing the info.

    Will hope for the best.

  18. Let me tell you a story of how Google local put me in debt. First we have to go back… 2 years ago, Google gave my Local Business listing the #1 place for my service and location. Today, I wished they never had and here’s why:

    Finlly, people that were searching for my services were finding me- and rightfully so! After all, I’m not only the best on my location, but one of the best in my industry, credited with multiple awards and years of expertise. At the time, I was so happy with Google that I would have kissed their shoes. They gave me the means to connect with clients where my limited resources could not.

    My home business grew to more than I could handle by myself. I needed to hire help, but to do so, I needed to get an office. I hired an attorney to draft up a business plan and we shopped it to the banks. Our pitch was simple “We need this much to expand- we’re making twice as much so it won’t be hard to pay back.” The loan was approved.

    I paid thousands for all the right licensing, hired 2 employees and moved into a warehouse. As sales increased and I expanded my inventory. Here’s where it turns bad:

    We moved into a warehouse lot with similar businesses. We all shared the same street address but different suites. One day, callers started complaining about products that we didn’t even carry and services that we didn’t perform. Turns out, one of our competitors had managed to rack up multiple negative reviews on his Google local listing and it had somehow MERGED with our listing.

    Now, dealing with damage control isn’t so tough. We explained to callers that they had the wrong number and gave them the correct one. The icing on the cake- when our business came to a screeching halt- was when we found that our phone number was nowhere to be seen. No one called for our business. To put it lightly, our phone lines had become the enemy.

    For nearly 2 months, we struggled with finding new customers. We passed out flyers but that proved to be ineffective. We heavily relied on Craigslist advertising. In fact, that was our ONLY source of revenue.

    Google was no help. They would not even entertain the idea of listening to us. What baffled me the most was how a company that employs 20,000 people (that’s right, twenty-thousand) didn’t have a single person to answer the phone. Here’s Google’s phone number, call them and ask them about anything and see what happens: (650) 253-0000. They will shut you down like a light.

    Like a broken record, Google’s android receptionists repeatedly chanted the anthem of: “We do not offer tech support for ‘free services’. We do not offer tech support for ‘free services’. We do…” Ok, as a professional I can understand that a business would not give free support for a free service, but I was willing to PAY. Alas, there was no one at Google that would take my money. Then I remembered that I had paid Google thousands of dollars in Adwords, a $21 Billion dollar company and they couldn’t help me.

    Finally, I ended up deleting my Google Local listing. I created a new one and waited a week for my conformation code. After verifying the code I searched daily for my listing to appear. About a week later I found it… It was on page 4. I’m sure you can figure out what happened in the proceeding weeks. We liquidated.

    There’s an old proverb: “Don’t put your eggs into one basket”… Whether that’s true or not, I know that basket is not Google.

    Thanks for debt,
    Out Of Business

  19. Sam, the exact same thing happened to my listing. I’ve been at the top of the list since I created my listing and all of a sudden I’m having a difficult time finding it, and when I do it’s the same scenario as yours, the pics are gone, details, coupons, etc. Only a blank page.

    I went into my account and just updated several things, hopefully that’ll do something. I’m going to wait a few days as Mike suggested; and I haven’t found anything regarding a “fix” to this issue anywhere.

  20. @Sam and Andy

    There are never many times that acting rashly helps but remember in local that slow and steady is the best bet.

    Lets assume that Google has refined their rankings and as a result you are now lower in standing or lets assume the opposite it doesn’t matter…regardless doing those thing things that are going to help long term are always good things: reviews, citations, local links…those are things that will help long haul no matter what….

    Those are also things that you can be doing now and they can only help.

    Mike

  21. To “Out of Business.”

    Definitely sorry to hear your story. Truly abominable.

    The Internet is great. Helps us in so many ways. But when it goes wrong, we are at its mercy.

    As you mentioned, it is more sad that so many businesses don’t want or even refuse human contact and make no bones about it. I suppose businesses and employees are busy sitting back thinking of products to market to us and have no time for “live” customer service.

    Google seems to do a pretty good job of screwing up.

    Not only does the Bishop at my church advise we must have 6 streams of income, I also know I cannot put all my eggs in one basket for anything involving the Internet. I must have several products, several sites, several promotions, blah, blah, blah AND have something going on offline.

    Amazing how the TOS absolves the provider of any responsibility. TOS gives companies/people carte blanche to screw up and say “oh well.” Google Maps does that a lot. Back when we lived and breathed a mostly offline world, things like this just didn’t happen.

    All the best to you.

  22. Andy, it is very frustrating. And makes no sense. I hate it when things don’t make sense.

    I did everything I knew I was supposed to do to get my mortgage listing at the top. And it’s still there. But why is the data gone? I did far more than any other business in my category in terms of reviews, videos, citations, pics, other links, coupons, etc. All this info has been there for months with more added all the time. Yet it can’t be seen. The details still show in my LBC panel, but for some reason don’t flow through to the listing search results.

    I still have to wonder if it is a Google slap.

    By the way, I did further research and other people are complaining about the same thing on a Google Local forum.

    For the record, this is what I mean by the details disappearing. See this site. It’s not my site – as is probably obvious. The person who owns the listing was complaining on the forum.

    Interesting too is that the “more” link on that page is not clickable, but we see it should be. On other “working” pages, that link directs visitor to send email.

    Is this what you are referring to Andy?

    What a pain in the gazoo.

  23. Can’t believe I am writing back to say this after what was discussed above. Hoping the info will help others.

    I just checked Google again. The missing info does show up now using Firefox. IE still showing the page I mentioned with hardly any details. (Andy, see if you get your details when you try Firefox. When I checked the link I gave in my prior post above for Tekoe Tee, their page comes up fully in Firefox also.)

    Here’s the kicker. My data has now been merged with another mortgage lender in my building. All the primary info and details (coupons, phone number, reviews) remain associated with me. But all the affiliated web pages mentioned are for the other office – with the exception of my site name shown in the Local Results Top 7 page.

    What a mess I have now. Can’t imagine how this will be fixed w/o starting over and losing my reviews.

    On a positive note, I suppose I should be grateful that “my” data is what’s showing up in the actual search results. The other office is not in the listings at all.

  24. “Out of business” google can be your best friend and your worst nightmare. I think you could get in contact with the white house easier than finding some one to help from Google. When you think how large they are and how they operate it really boggles the mind. I guess we all need them more than they need us so we can put up or shut up……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.