Google Maps: Six reasons why your listing might “go South” & some tips to cope

It has been a time of great change in Google Maps with new technology and processes rolling out at a torrid pace. Part of that change has apparently resulted in some shakeups in the rankings.Β I have received a number of inquiries as to why a certain listing has dropped or disappeared from view in the Local One Box Β or Maps.

It is the kind of query that requires some study and reflection and usually can’t be answered in a Twitter stream nor as a comment in the blog. Minimally it requires an in-depth contextual understanding of the listing, its history and the exact nature of the problem.

That being said here are 6 possibilities that I consider when looking at a record that has “gone south”….

1)Google seems to be penalizing listings more that don’t comply with their guidelines particularly those listings with excessive use of geo phrases in the title, body and categories. Solution: Check out your listing and if you notice lots of geo phrases in the title, description and body think about a new strategy. See below.

2)Their new Places pages has introduced some new ranking algos for the content used to assess listings. This could have affected overall ranking on some listings. Obviously if the Places internal ranking of cluster data has changed, the overall ranking of your listing could be represented differently. Solution: Continue to build the signal strength for the business listing.

3)As noted in a previous article some listings seem to get temporarily lost or perhaps rolled back to an earlier state during the on-going Google’s Places upgrades. Solution: Wait patiently. I know, from first hand experience, that this is hard but in this case it is the best solution as this is temporary. Sometimes, just resaving from the edit mode with minor edits will also help this.

4)The recent change of geo data sources also can cause some listings to be lost in space as it were. If Google no longer knows about a street or town, the listings are lost geospatially and they can’t be ranked. Solution: Report any missing street & address data to Google via the new reporting tool and relocate your business in the LBC via the Map. Wait.

5)Sometimes fresh listings that have a certain velocity will show for a while but then decline to their “natural” position. Β Solution: Continue to be sure that your listing is gaining signal strength via new web citations, reviews and locationally prominent links.

6)Your listing is 8th and Google is now only showing the top 7 listings in the Β new Lucky 7 Pack. Solution: See above.

These thoughts are still partially formed and I do not yet have a large enough sample to be absolutely postive which one applies, when or if these are the only possibilities. I am sharing them with you to gain a better understanding myself of the factors and they should not be taken as gospel. They are meant to provide you with some reasonable basis for handling your listing.

My advice in dealing with these listings is much like the standard that a doctor is given: Do no harm. My second piece of advise is don’t panic. Being patient and doing nothing, while often the most difficult path, often produces the best results. It makes no sense to start radical surgery if you do not know the cause of the illness.

Oh and don’t the forget basics. Be sure that your listing has strong signals across the internet and a steady velocity. Insure that your client is engaging his customers for reviews, is talking up his website to his/her fellow chamber members for good local links, and that mentions of his business continue to increase across the web.

As the Greek Stoics noted some things can only be influenced and not controlled. Getting your underwear in a bundle over something that you can not control is detrimental to your mental health. Doing so only punishes you twice, once for the lost listing and a second time for agony & worry. Google Maps is definitely one of those things.

In a recent desparate email a questioner noted that the recent drop in ranking might lead to his job loss and asked what he should be thinking about doing to correct the situation. I suggested that he should be thinking about getting a new job.

May his and your citations forever increase!

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps: Six reasons why your listing might "go South" & some tips to cope by

19 thoughts on “Google Maps: Six reasons why your listing might “go South” & some tips to cope”

  1. Great advice Michael! I’ve been studying maps data with much greater interest since the roll out of Lucky 7 from the 10 pack last week. I’m seeing a few of the things you mention and taking notes. At least they’re keeping things interesting. πŸ™‚

  2. Once again a great post Mike! I wonder if Google will ever help out more when it comes to Maps and the universal results that include maps.

  3. @Eric
    Let me rephrase that answer with a tad more nuance.

    Is it likely that Google will provide individualized customer service around these questions? Probably not.

    Will Google get more problems fixed, provide a better interface less likely to cause problems and improve the help available algorithmically? Yes

  4. I have noticed some listing completely lost from the database and dont know what to do about it. Everythign is legit, no spamming geo tagging etc. I have no idea where this listing is. Any thoughts? The listing is pretty robust with plenty of (web pages) photos, video, reviews and user content.

  5. @ Todd

    It is a difficult question to answer in a blog comment as it requires an in-depth contextual understanding of the listing.

    Did you definitely eliminate all of the above?

  6. Agree, patience is key in this industry.
    What I also have noticed is that the listing is not showing in the universal results but if you click maps, same keyword, the listing will show B or C.
    Great post as usual.

  7. So much changes but nothing has been done in order to prevent spam.
    Still spammy Locksmith are creating 100s of new listings in a week & by that dominating the 7 packs, claim reclaim black tactic is been done to all those 100s which causing them to stay longer at the 7 pack. In Canada for instance, You can even see hips of USA based sites (& phone #s) ruling the 7 pack in Toronto (see this example- C- Florida area dode. F- US spammers in Canada-

    What is the reason of painting the wall with a new color if it’s all rotten under the surface!?

  8. @Martha
    That is usually a function of either age of listing (being new) or of trust level.


    As they say: Details Schmetails. πŸ™‚ Yes the data has gotten bad….think they will ever be able to get locksmiths squared away?

  9. @Mike,
    Sure they can! They did just fine (yet to soft) with the action they took of Flagging the Locksmith word. Still, cutting edge techniques are well appreciated by all sides. It doesn’t matter if you are enriching uranium or cracking a big part of Google’s Maps algorithms- if you are having a breakthrough (or many if talking of the Locksmith industry), Google will use this info to improve their product, hence letting loose their enforcements.

    Locksmith Migration:
    – Another topic which really reflects Google (Maps) domination in the on line advertisement world for businesses- As I’m representing Locksmiths companies from both USA & Canada I can notice some scary movements- since Google started Flagging Locksmith key word/s – there is a huge upsurge in the Maps spam in Canada (mainly in Toronto & Calgary)!! Can you believe it?! they just crawled up to the north.
    This is the biggest Locksmith Migration ever been seen in history. LOL.

  10. I think it is good that Google is penalizing listings that use keyword stuffing. Using my local UK version I still see irrelevant results (especially when it comes to hotels and tourism) but I should say there are far less irrelevant things than a year ago.

  11. You mention in your post about “sending signals” for your listing. Is this mostly with getting online citations and reviews? Any idea if it is beneficial for seo to get backlinks with keyword-rich anchor text to your places page? Would this help in the 10/7/3/1 pack results?

    This whole maps thing has probably been the most frustrating part of my SEO experience for my small business. I have the most reviews (all real by the way) of any competitor, my listing is 100% complete, yet my spammy competitors still continue to dominate the listings!!

  12. I would also like to receive an answer to Nate’s Question (#14). I have the same problem. I have the second most real reviews and my carpet cleaning business in Portland is located on page 3. I have just had 2 more reviews submitted and nothing changed. It tried changing the coupons tonight to see if that would do anything, but I am not sure.

    Also, my organic listing for the “carpet cleaning Portland” business has also dropped to page 2. I guess I now know why it has been so slow.

    Thanks Michael for atleast providing information that makes me feel a little better. Now I think my listing may climb the charts once the recent changes at Google get sorted out.

  13. Mike,

    Another great post!

    Your advice about don’t panic and don’t start radical surgery is sooooo true! Google Maps can be an interesting beast that does take some “in-depth contextual studying” – I like that wording and might have to borrow that phrase when speaking with clients. πŸ™‚

    If you layout a good full listing and following all of Google Map’s TOS (don’t get suckered into creating spammy listings) and focus on getting quality citations and collect array of reviews on Google Maps and other authority reviews sites (that Google Maps pulls data from) you should have no trouble ranking in the 7-Pack. Don’t forget about “My Maps” too!

    Other common factors that can drop rankings are:

    “Double listings”

    Double listings can do the most damage. I see a ton of people not aware they have 2,3,4 and I have even seen 12 listings of a single company on Google maps. Each having slightly different info and each splitting up their reviews & citations – the juice behind the rankings.

    Make sure you do a search in Google Maps for your phone #, and address separately and sometimes you find listings for your business that don’t even have the right DBA name. Have to find ALL the listings that possess any of your core NAP (name, address, phone) info.

    Solution to Double Listings: You need to claim and merge those listing correctly.

    Another common mistake merchants make… is discovering they a double listing, but they decide to delete one of them instead of mergering them. Big No-No.

    Deleting a double listing can cause a drop in your rankings. Solution is to un-delete the second listing and to properly merge the double listing. I’m pretty sure Mike has a tutorial on his blog on how to correctly merge listings. If not there is one on my blog.

    That’s my 2-cents! πŸ™‚

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