There is no question that it takes more time to rank a website than it has in the past. Five years ago, an SEO could work on a website, make some alterations to the site, and within a few days, he would quickly see ranking improvements. This has changed, and will likely not be seen anytime soon. Google relies on Pay-Per-Click revenue to generate the vast majority of the returns for stockholders, and while they can keep SEO’s guessing, they will continue at a slow pace, especially when it comes to high dollar Adwords spenders like attorneys.
Google’s Guessing Game
One of the easiest ways for Google to know how SEO’s are trying to improve rankings is simply by watching and observing. If changes are made to a website, and the rankings improve, then it would make sense for that same online marketing professional to continue to implement the same strategies again and again, for a large number of websites. A Google Patent adds a little wrinkle to this line of thinking.
Google will initially assign a rank to a keyword based upon how the site is optimized, and then over a period of time, will move the rankings up, down, or have little to no fluctuation. How long is this time period? Many people believe this is for about 21 days. Our internal testing has shown that often times, websites will sit static with absolutely no movement for about three weeks, and then we may see sudden jumps in either direction. This lag time is nothing new, but what appears to be happening even more frequently is that there are often multiple 21-day freezes on sites causing even more confusion, exactly what the search engine giant is looking for. Now instead of ranking in 3 weeks to a month, it can take 3 to 6 months to really see any movement. There is Google property that seems to move at a much quicker when optimized properly…..Google My Business.
Capitalizing on Local Maps Traffic
We have written in other blogs on this site about the success we have had utilizing Google Maps with attorneys. In the past, there would be 7 local listings for a search phrase, but that changed when Google introduced the Snack Pack (only 3 listings) in 2015. There are rumors that the local “snack pack” will change to a paid service in the next few years which would make sense considering Google makes no money off of this free service. However, for the time being, it makes sense to take advantage of this free traffic as much as possible. If you cover a geographical area and provide goods and services within that area, then you can take advantage of the “free listing” provided by Google. We use quotes here because the average person on the street trying to get listed in the snack pack is going to find it next to impossible. With the reduction of listings from seven down to three, it is now critical to optimize everything about your listing perfectly, and follow the signals Google has given us over the last six months.
Google Knows Where You Have Been, And Where You’ re Going
Google is already tracking the way you search. If you have a Gmail account, and you search from your desktop and your phone, Google is determining what geographic area you perform your searches most often. By narrowing down this geographical area, you are going to be delivered different results than your wife, neighbor, parents, or kids. Google wants to present the best search results possible for everyone using their search engine, and we all have different areas in which we travel, and different personality characteristics that they can take advantage of. Sounds hard to believe right, but it is more realistic than you can imagine.
Maybe you noticed recently that a little pop-up appeared from Google Maps alerting you that you need to leave for your dinner appointment early because the traffic on your route is backed up. Google is learning your schedule, habits, and knows the roads you travel most often. You put your appointments in the Google Calendar, use your Gmail to send and receive messages, you may have a Google Drive account or created some Google spreadsheets. That information is being stored and used in some capacity. How much we don’t really know, but to prove the point, try this little exercise.
Same Location – Different Search Engine Results
The next time you are at a bar or a restaurant with a group of friends, ask if anyone in the group uses Gmail. (actually you don’t need to be on Google for you to get different results) It probably won’t be very hard to find someone using the free service. It is even better if you have multiple people who use the free service and live in different areas. Once you have found a few people, do a search for something local to you such as DUI attorney or Heating and Air Conditioning Company, and compare the results of the group. You are likely going to find that many of the results are different. If you are not using the free wifi that is being offered, they are likely going to be extremely different. You may see the top 1, 2, 3 listings all different, or you may see them mixed and matched. If everyone in the group has the same Maps listings, then you may be seeing a highly competitive niche that is spending a great deal of time and money on securing those rankings. Just continue to go down the page and ask others who is in position 4, 6, 7, etc. Based on what we have seen with this little social experiment, you are going to see a number of different results, yet you are all searching for the same location.
Here is a local search done on February 18th in my living room. My wife and I did a mere search for DUI attorney. Remember, we are on the same Wifi Signal, and here are just the top 3 results in the Maps listing. We used no Geo modifier like DC DUI attorney.
As you can see, this search was done at 8:28 PM from the same location. The results in the top 3 are different. The organic listings below were also quite different.
In addition to your browsing history and location, you will also have different results based upon the browser you use. If you use Google Chrome for example, you will be given different results compared to Safari, Firefox, or any other.
The results here organically are based upon local search, even though no city was used in the search. The attorneys of Bruckheim & Patel obviously have a very solid organic maps listing, and they understand how attorney marketing works, as they remained in the #1 spot on both devices. They will likely show on most browsers as #1 in this location.
The Success and Secret To Ranking in Google Maps
Some people may find this a bit too much like “Big Brother”, but we wanted to share with you the opportunity to rank well in Google Maps. Since we are getting unique results, it is critical to make sure your Maps listing is laid out exactly as needed, and the proper signals are being sent to Google when it comes to your listing. By planning out this process, and then building on the strategy, you will move to the top of the Maps listings, and depending on how well they are optimized, and the maintenance performed on them each week, will stay there month after month.
In the last 45 days, we began working with a group of attorneys that had no listings in their top three markets, yet they had physical locations in all three. They had the listings filled out properly, they had reviews, they had images and even published to their Google My Business account on occasion. To the untrained eye, they had everything they needed to rank for the keywords and phrases in their back yard. We made a series of adjustments and alterations to all three listings, and within 3 weeks, two of the offices ranked for all of their keyword phrases in the Snack Pack. Within 45 days, a total of 51 keyword phrases, all with search volume ranked on the front page of Google in the top 3 listings. What was even better, is the listings in the Snack Pack were also accompanied by organic listings in the top 10, so they had claimed two front page listings just by our efforts on Google Maps, or as the search engine giant calls it, Google My Business.
I know the headline of this section was the secret, but we would be fools to give away the strategies that we have learned from testing and optimizing site after site over the last several months. We have helped personal injury attorneys, DUI lawyers, corporate attorneys, as well as other types of businesses including Heating and Air, chiropractors, video production agencies, landscapers, and several others. There simply is not a better way, or a quicker way, to capture organic traffic at this time. If you want to learn how Hit Me SEO can help your business, then have us do the heavy lifting so you can focus on your business. We encourage you to fill out our Discovery Form, or if you have a law office, fill out our specific form for attorneys, and we will let you know exactly what we can do for you.