Over the past few months, increasing numbers of local companies using Google Places have been posting in the Google Places Help Forum regarding a catastrophic loss of ranking in Google Places. Im not just talking about slipping down the 7Pack to
Red Grey Pin E or F. Im talking about complete wipe-out, and in some cases as far down as the 3rd or 4th page on Maps with seemingly no way of recovering.
More recently Linda Buquet posted on this phenomenon now known as the “Proximity Lockout Algo” and even goes on to conclude that there is likely no way to get ranked in blended results for their CORE keyword unless they move downtown!
Well after just over a month of research, testing, tweaking etc, I have finally managed to Crack the Proximity Lockout Algo!! And if Cracking the Code wasn’t enough, the specific Google Places page in question has jumped back in at position A for its core keyword/location search query.
Please Note - Firstly, the Goole Places page for this local company is in no way optimized to the advanced levels your would associate with a Guru SEO Expert. In terms of SEO optimization & sophistication levels of Places Pages, (based on the knowledge I have accrued myself) I would say its around 6 or 7 out of 10, however it ranks well for blended every time, or at least it did until the Lockout.
I tried every known ethical & White Hat trick in the book, and I’m ashamed to say that at one point, the thought of moving the marker to the middle of the centroid crossed my mind for a split second……..there I said it!
How did I do it? Bear with me, ill get to it! I know I’m waffling on, but I feel its important to think about the thought process and the rationale behind the theory. Whilst the Proximity Lockout problem is evident in Google, it is only present in certain scenarios, for example CORE Keyword/Location search & Quality/Quantity of results.
The Proximity Lockout was present for my chosen Keyword/Location therefore I figured that Google had sufficient info in the centroid to display results that would meet the users requirements , regardless of the quality results outside the centroid. So it got me thinking, if Google had INSUFFICIENT RESULTS in the locked centroid, maybe it will look further afield?
What I did & why I’m happy to reveal this information?
Well first of all, it’s still a theory at the moment. There is no guarantee it will work again, or even if its anything I have done. There are a thousand external influences which may have contributed to this change, however I believe this tactic works, but I need more examples to prove it.
Here’s what I did! – Google Places is littered with inaccuracies from Black Hat Listings, to incorrect scraped data and duplicate listings, therefore If I can provide honest feedback about my local town which may affect this particular search, then maybe I can prompt Google to look for better Places Listings.
So rather than concentrate on my own Google Places Listing (I know it ranks well, its just the Lockout which prevents this), I set about ensuring that Google had the most accurate and up to date information available in my local town and for each and every local competitor for this particular CORE Keyword/Location query.
What is really surprising, is how few edits were required in order to shift Google results from 7pack Proximity Locked, to Blended Full Map. In total I only made TWO edits which consisted of Merging 2 duplicate listings into 1, and also moving 1 Black Hat marker incorrectly placed in the centroid. Now it’s entirely possible that I have been lucky and my Keyword/Location could have been on the brink of changing due to the variables already present. That’s why I need your help & more examples!
What is even more surprising, is the speed in which all this took place. Credit really does have to go out to Google for the speed in which they have responded to the problems I highlighted. I have noticed a real shift in Google’s proactive action to the ‘Report a Problem’ feature since they announced a new support feature for Google Places not just in these 2 edits, but quite a few local edits for existing clients.
I believe this method can benefit Google Places and can only be influenced by White Hat Techniques, Local knowledge & in the presence of incorrect Google Places Data. From experience, Google have followed edits for the Places Pages I manage with telephone verification calls therefore I see little opportunity for Black Hat enthusiasts.
Could this be a possible Proximity Lockout release, or possibly a coincidental algo change? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!