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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

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. I have received a number of inquiries as to why a certain listing has dropped or disappeared from view in the Local One Box  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.  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  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!