Are Big Brands Being Forced Out of the Local Stack?

 

Google Local in a nutshell
Google Local in a nutshell

Updated July 25th, 2016

It has been over 2 months since Google reduced the Local results from 7 down to 3. Since the change, I’ve been attempting to analyze various items in the Pack – picture sizes, who is ranking, why they are ranking and what factors are keeping the businesses in the Local Stack. I’ve written several posts on how terrible the results are and what a poor experience the Local Stack has been so far. I think Google is doing some things to better the user experience but it still has a ways to go.

I have been noticing more and more small business, “mom and pop” shops, located in the Local Stack since the change and decided to test my theory that big Brands are being pushed out of the Local results.

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Why Google My Business is Critical for Local Success

Local SEO

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business launched to most businesses in June of 2014 and signified a major investment from Google in local business. Google, always looking toward future, appears to be solidifying local business as their foundation for the future. Many businesses were able to use Google My Business (GMB) immediately upon release, while other, larger, branded companies had to wait several months for the rollout.

Originally known as Google Places, Google My Business is designed to help local businesses seize control of their digital marketing presence. This powerful tool allows businesses to manage general business information, Google Reviews, Google Plus, Adwords and Analytics in one easy to use home. It also provides a way to manage the local digital landscape from Google Search, Google Maps and Google Plus on one dashboard.

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I Got us Pandalized. Then We Got Out. Here’s How.

What Happened

The Google Panda algorithm was first deployed in February of 2011 and effected up to 12% of search results, most notably for us – our website. The algorithm targeted low quality websites with thin content, high ad to content ratios and other quality signals such as content farms. We got smoked by this algorithm and continued to get dinged each time a new version of Panda was released to the wild.

panda1

I’ve read others say that once you get hit by Panda once, you somewhat flatten out and it doesn’t keep hurting you. My perspective on that is different. Our website continually got hit and each time it took a good portion of our traffic – anywhere from 5-20% of whatever the current level of traffic happened to be. Now, this was our own fault mind you. Some of it was because we were lackadaisical in changing our content from standard, un-unique, nearly duplicate content on nearly all of our city/state/zip code pages and some was because I was still pumping out guest blogs which were of the same, poor quality as our website content. I take full responsibility.

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Pigeon Local Results are Useless

via http://www.questioningcreatives.com/mark-chambers/
via http://www.questioningcreatives.com/mark-chambers/

What is Pigeon 

By now, we all know what Pigeon is about. A quick recap for those who are behind….On July 24th, Google launched a new local algorithm, later dubbed Pigeon by Search Engine Land. Results are still coming in though it appears the algorithm is a huge shake up in local search as both Google Maps and Web results were impacted. It is supposed to provide more useful, relevant and accurate local search results which are more closely tied to traditional web search ranking signals. (I will prove later why I think this is bullshit.) As of now, Pigeon has only rolled out to US results though it will most likely roll out to other countries and languages in the near future.

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