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Google's recent update on September 1st 2016

Alex.Lemoing

Getting Refreshed
Jul 15, 2013
46
15
8
First Name
Alexandre
I don't know if anyone else noticed what I saw in early September, but it seems like Google updated their Local Search algorithm... I am still researching what really happened and so far I cannot find anything on the subject online. It seems like Google is not telling us that they updated their algorithm but I know that they did.

One day I was ranking really well in local search under keywords such as "used car dealership" "used car for sale" "pre-owned cars" etc... the next, our rankings (and ranking of our competitors) went down (way down) and were replaced by another dealership that wasn't a big SEO player...

I will show you some keywords and ranking chart for my dealer and a few other. Is anyone else in the same boat? I have been working on this particular site for years, and I fear that it will take me several years to get back to where we once were.

Can anyone shed a light on this?
I am looking at this competitor's site and I don't see that it has been optimized for these keywords, my only guess is that they have a good backlink strategy with related anchor text?

BTW: I am not looking to be sold an SEO service, just understand what happened and how to fix this...
For now I am thinking of cranking Pay per click on these keywords until I can get the rankings back up.



 

mikesayre

Getting Refreshed
Jul 11, 2009
99
85
18
First Name
Mike
I don't know if anyone else noticed what I saw in early September, but it seems like Google updated their Local Search algorithm... I am still researching what really happened and so far I cannot find anything on the subject online. It seems like Google is not telling us that they updated their algorithm but I know that they did.

One day I was ranking really well in local search under keywords such as "used car dealership" "used car for sale" "pre-owned cars" etc... the next, our rankings (and ranking of our competitors) went down (way down) and were replaced by another dealership that wasn't a big SEO player...

I will show you some keywords and ranking chart for my dealer and a few other. Is anyone else in the same boat? I have been working on this particular site for years, and I fear that it will take me several years to get back to where we once were.

Can anyone shed a light on this?
I am looking at this competitor's site and I don't see that it has been optimized for these keywords, my only guess is that they have a good backlink strategy with related anchor text?

BTW: I am not looking to be sold an SEO service, just understand what happened and how to fix this...
For now I am thinking of cranking Pay per click on these keywords until I can get the rankings back up.



Chasing SEMRUSH stats is tough, lot's of factors are going into it, I've found over the years that it's more of a relevant comparison guide than an exact science. I wouldn't sweat it, if this is a competitors site I'd say they might have gotten a whole new platform, or maybe miscounted traffic as organic? Google organic rankings is a lot of ebb & flow now, mobile has changed the game & rankings can change daily, most of what I've found on rankings in our area is based on overall website popularity & traffic more than any other factors. Plus over 80% of our group organic traffic is all name based, the rest of it isn't our most productive traffic either. It might help to check spyfu.com to see if it's comparable changes you're seeing with those sites.
 

craigh

Super Moderator
May 19, 2011
1,657
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Craig
My SEO strategy is to build a website for visitors, not stuff keywords into it, not focus on cheesy backlinks and not create pages with no value for users. The results are surprisingly strong. We took a Ford store from #4 of 4 in all local searches to #1 for almost all terms by removing all the SEO gunk from the prior company.

I like to believe that the Google algorithm is quite intelligent at this point, but I'm also quite confident that one of their main mission statements is to ensure that SEO tactics don't work and that their search engine cannot be gamed.

Back to the main question, whenever I see a major change I check the main culprits:
  • Google Plus/Local/Business page still active and correct (we've lost some in the past)
  • Error Logs / Google Analytics - look for 404 Page Not Found issues
  • Use Google Test My Site and Page Speed Insights to see how they rank your performance https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
  • Check analytics for a change in device behaviour - sometimes your mobile site is the problem, sometimes the desktop site is, etc
  • Check sitemap and Google Webmaster Tools - this tool is very helpful and they're pretty transparent with it. The more time we invested into this tool, the better our pages were indexed over the next 30 days
  • For local search, make sure you're not cannibalizing your location results by using too many locations (ie: we sell cars near City A, City B, City C)
When it comes to local search, I've always used the list @JoePistell provided of local business services and I've noticed a huge impact that those and Google Places have - most map and ranking results for local businesses seem to be heavily tied to how involved you are in the Google ecosystem.
 

ed.brooks

Sr. Refresher
Jan 15, 2010
1,106
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Ed
"Most the local SEO experts are saying this is related to a quality update based on Google removing a lot of spammy local results. Local results have thus shifted and changes because removing a local result due to quality issues will result in different local results showing up. Not all are convinced this is purely a quality update but rather an update the local ranking algorithm."
 
Reactions: Alex.Lemoing

Alex.Lemoing

Getting Refreshed
Jul 15, 2013
46
15
8
First Name
Alexandre
Thanks @craigh and @Ed Brooks. I have done further research and yes indeed it it likely that this is a quality update. I am removing all other geo locations, except my own and will see if that makes any difference in the long run. Also starting a twitter for the store. Apparently Google has now shifted it's focus from Google + to twitter as a sign of content freshness.
I like to think that I keep the site pretty tidy and without too much spam. It's time to get cleaning!
 

ed.brooks

Sr. Refresher
Jan 15, 2010
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650
113
First Name
Ed

Chubbard

Noob
Oct 4, 2016
20
2
6
First Name
Crystal
Hi All,

I've brought this issue up with my programmer, and he's of the mindset that I should be creating MORE city landing pages for local search, not less. I've removed a ton of garbage from our past programmer / digital marketing company, but I'm concerned that in my efforts to rebuild our local campaign, I've overshot, and should have those locally-geared pages removed. My main temptation in keeping them is that many of our dealerships are located in very rural areas (or serve them), so having content that specifically speaks to a segment of our target regions, and points them in the direction of the nearest dealership, seems to have *some* UX value.

Thanks, and I will now take my question off the air.