For many years I have been helping companies gain a better presence though legit methods though on page optimization to fating up the pages to give Google more indicators and the visitors a more rich experience.

This week I'm completely mind blow to what Google has done to a local search result and I just don't know what to say to my client because I have no idea why its happened, it looks like a manual adjustment to the LOCAL SERPS.

It may help if I explain whats happened, this is not a natural shift in results but a completely drastic flip of results.

I'll try and explain by using an example as for NDA reasons I can't disclose any information.

Basically this is last weeks result (ones with letters are the first 7 results that are returned that a have Google maps/Places presence). All sites that end with ingo are a set of groups and another set is ending with uffa - to illustrate a completely shift.

  1. Gumtree
  2. Checkatrade
  3. Dingo - (A)
  4. Lingo - (B)
  5. Bingo - (C)
  6. Singo - (D)
  7. Gingo - (E)
  8. Yingo - (F)
  9. Hingo - (G)
  10. Muffa
  11. Puffa
  12. Duffa
  13. Suffa
  14. Ruffa
  15. Tuffa

That was last week and here's the shocker, it now looks like this: Now this week:

  1. Muffa - (A)
  2. Puffa - (B)
  3. Duffa - (C)
  4. Suffa - (D)
  5. Ruffa - (E)
  6. Tuffa - (F)
  7. Gumtree
  8. Checkatrade
  9. Dingo - (G)
  10. Lingo
  11. Bingo
  12. Singo
  13. Gingo
  14. Yingo
  15. Hingo

The 'Ingo' sets are completely different sites and are fairly high quality sites, the sites that are now displaying are much less quality, very thin and so on. I've tested in multiple browsers, cleared cache, and even used various of other devices such as phone on a different IP to see if Google is caching the results, sadly its not because I got some online friends to confirm.

So has anyone heard anything official, in the past week or month that could have this huge effect, its not a nature shift in rankings, you just don't get 9 sites lose their rank and have the bottom half of the page become the new leaders.

I'm actually really annoyed about this because its a waste of hard work if Google are not going to return the sites that deserve returning.

  • You're not logged into Google on these devices?
    – MrWhite
    Aug 13 '13 at 13:45
  • Sadly nope, this is what I first expected. Even asked a few friends online to check and even rang my mum and asked her lol. I thought to myself ok Google is doing something but its been 3 days and it looks like these results are to stay, its an absolute kick in the teeth for these businesses who have shifted for no reason, the results now displaying are 1-2 page sites if that. Aug 13 '13 at 13:49
  • Just a thought of mine on your case: "unfortunately, it often happens and I think nothing can be done to solve this, Google is king. When letters are present in SERPs, I think Google includes Google Local rankings (old Google Maps rankings). And I find Google Local rankings is just a mess, that's why SERPs often change radically.".
    – Zistoloen
    Aug 13 '13 at 14:08
  • Local search... is it using your position (and getting it wrong, or even right)?! Is there any correlation with these results and the distance they are from you? Do you see a difference with a "Verbatim" search?
    – MrWhite
    Aug 13 '13 at 14:38
  • The location was set to about 30miles away since it detects my IP address in the wrong country, even when setting it to the same county it returns the same results, using verbatiem is suprising, it returns the results I would expect but without the local rankings to the right... So that works correctly, what does that mean. Aug 13 '13 at 15:05

Without seeing actual results my best guess is unnatural links were found in and to these sites.

Watch this video and then watch the rest of Matt Cutts' videos and you'll understand how SEO has changed forever.

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