Help Google is treating my business like a local brick and mortar

Organic search versus non local search – A different look at local search.

We are sharing because at RiptideHosting we were showing up on Google for organic searches across the entire United States up until Google determined we were a local brick and mortar type of business.

It took us almost a year to determine why we disappeared from the organic search on Google. Since we server customers all around the world our traffic dropped once we stopped showing up in organic search.

At one point we thought other websites copying our content was causing us to drop in the rankings. Then we thought Google banned our site or some of the pages on the site. We also thought that maybe junk SEO links pointing to our site might have contributed to us disappearing.

One of the key phases we were looking at was “Remote Desktop Hosting”. On both Bing and Google we regularly showed up on in the top three results. We still do show up that high on Bing. Not many of the results for “Remote Desktop Hosting” are relevant so we wondered if Google removed us.

Then we realized if we added a local word “Denver” or “Colorado” in front of our search terms we showed up on the first page of the organic Google search results. For the “remote desktop hosting” phrase with Denver at the beginning our site shows up twice in the first three results. Adding a local city or state name isn’t what we’ve read about as local search. Rather your physical location as seen by Google would affect the search results. We did not have those local words in front of our key terms but they were in some of our page names. So we think Google is linking our website to the company’s physical location. So they are treating us like a local brick and mortar company that serves a local geographical area.

At this point we realize our site isn’t black listed since it does show up. We also checked Google’s webmaster tools to make sure we didn’t have any manual penalties. We also researched to see if our ranking and traffic decline coincided with any major changes in Google’s algorithm which it didn’t.

Once we realized we were showing up for local searches we remembered a month or two before we dropped that an SEO company suggested we make some changes to our website and for our website on other sites. We were ranking well but figured it is good to keep improving. And guess what the company suggested? They suggested we have a “Google Local Page” (so as we would show up on a map) and have our site listed on many sites like Super Pages. Adding your website to pages like Super Pages also requires you add your address to the listing. So in a month or two we started sending signals to Google with the listing of our website and address that we are a local business. And on top of that we now had a “Google Local Page”. Having your company name, address and site is called a “website placement”.

The “Google Local Page” and website placements are recommend for a local brick and mortar business that is focusing on local business. A good example would be a chiropractor who only has local customers. So if you server local customers only the above are great suggestions.

We also noticed another company who ranked and still ranks high like we did has no address on their site. Nor do they have a Google places page and we’ve yet to find their address listed anywhere online. Maybe they had this issue in the past.

All signs pointed to our site being treated as a local only business. We have replaced our Google page with the brand page and started the process of having the website placements removed. It takes a lot more effort to remove a listed than to get it added. Some require physical mail to be sent. After making these changes we are showing up on Google for some terms again but not yet as high as we did in the past. As always you should add good and relevant content to your website which we continue to do.

Google has been making changes to their local vs. non local searches and will continue to do so. Their mobile search supposedly is different from non-mobile searches so test on mobile devices if your customers would be likely to search via their mobile device for your services or products.

Knowing if you want to show up on local searches versus global or non-local is important. If you or a SEO company implements changes on your site or listings on other sites make sure those changes make sense for the customers they are seeking.

Make sure you understand the changes SEO companies or employees are suggesting. We asked the SEO company who suggested these changes after the negative impact if the changes they suggest could have a negative impact and they assured us they would not. I have also posed this scenario to a couple of other SEO companies and they had not encountered this local versus non-local search challenge. We learned the hard way that not all change is good for Google Rankings. Hopefully this will help those companies who are in the same condition as us and save others keep their rankings.

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