Here’s my slide deck from my talk on Local U Advanced Virtual. This is a great event for anyone looking to improve their local SEO skills. It’s about what you can do if your rankings are falling and can’t get back up.

You can’t purchase the videos after they are done, and I don’t have the recording. The easiest way to get what I’m putting down, is to flip through the slides (above). You may already be familiar with some of the action items. If you are unsure about anything – and I am certain that a few points will – you can review the one-page summary or my commentary below.

This is the one-page summary.

Here are some color comments on slides that may be required:

Slide #3: These suggestions are not about concerns such as why your GMB page was temporarily suspended or why your site isn’t loading. These types of problems are often covered elsewhere and the solutions are often simple. I’m focusing on the “Hadn’t thought of that move, I’ll try it” type suggestion.

Slide 4 (general rules) Keep detailed but clear logs of your work. This will make troubleshooting much easier as you’ll know exactly what happened and when. Sometimes the only way to get out of a problem, or at least the way it got there, is to do nothing. If your rankings have plummeted and you are unable to figure out why, it might be worth waiting.

Slide #7 (on Search Console Analysis):

Spend some time looking in the “Performance” -> “Pages” area of Google Search Console. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from the data. A “money” page in trouble can cause a drop in organic rankings, Maps rankings, or both.

Slide #9: Filtering certain terms in Search Console. The idea of this slide is to see how your performance on search terms people enter when they don’t know anything about you but may become customers. This is in contrast to people who are word of mouth referrals or people who simply have a question and don’t intend to pay you anything.

Slide #13: Using homepage as GMB landing URL. This is a problem for multi-location companies, but it can also be a problem if your GMB page points at a page on your website other than your homepage. This means that a weak competitor could easily enter your market and outrank your site with relative ease, which can cause your Maps rankings sink. You can find more information in my 2014 post about the topic.

Slide #15 on competitors’ GMB landing page: The fundamental question is: Is the advantage on a competitor’s landing page or elsewhere? It’s not worth comparing their entire sites to yours to determine if it is the former. Don’t be distracted by the details and only focus on the GMB landing page of their competitor. Is theirs more information about specific services? More information about their service area. More backlinks to local domains. No pop-ups, accordions, or other elements that could impact Google’s crawling for certain content. You will likely notice some low-hanging fruits if you do an apples-to-apples analysis.

Slide #16 (on competitors businesses in or very near your building) Google seems to try to show search results that are geographically diverse and not just a bunch or businesses in the same area. A competitor who shares your address (think feet, not miles), can cause a drop in Google Maps visibility. If they are snooping around your neck and aren’t spamming you, there is nothing you can do but to outwork them on their on-page SEO, inbound link building, and reviews. Joy Hawkins covered the topic in 2016 and other similar phenomena since.

Slide #18 (on mitigating Google Maps Spam): You might also be breaking a few rules. You might not want to interfere with a competitor’s business even though they are doing it to you.

It is up to you to decide how you will react to spammers in your area. However, my general philosophy is that they work their street and you work yours. This topic is something I often cover, but if you are new to it, these posts might be of interest to you:

Google Maps Spam Patrol – Why You Should Do It and 10 Tips to Make it Possible

The Hardest Truths About Google Maps Spam

Google Maps Spam Reporting System: The Toilet That Flushes 60% (on a Good Day).

Slide #22 (on similar-named competitors). Nearby competition don’t need much or any SEO good if they can confuse Google or neutralize the advantage your keyword-rich GMB names. Be a giraffe among zebras. If that’s impossible, at the very least don’t be one of the shortest zebras among the zebras. This post is Generic, Local SEO-Friendly Business Names: The Pros and Cons to Using One

Slide #24 – Spreading out GMB Pages within Your Service Area: Roto-Rooter does an excellent job of distributing their offices / GMB webpages throughout Greater Houston rather than putting them all together. This allows them to rank across more territory and isn’t competing for the same rankings in the same areas. Divide and conquer.

Slide #25 – How to create “practitioner”, or “department”, GMB pages: The basic idea behind each public-facing professional (e.g. Each public-facing professional (e.g., doctor, lawyer, agent, etc.) has a GMB page that points to a bio page on the site that is optimized for their specialty. GMB categories should be different from the main business or practice. These people are often targeting “niche” search terms which makes it easier to rank for them. However, the main business or practice is trying to rank for more difficult terms. These pages can be confusing and your main GMB page may drop if you don’t distinguish them.

Slide #27 – Adding underperforming terms to pages that are performing well: You can add terms to pages that are doing well that rank well for terms that other pages have failed to rank. This is what one of my clients calls “sprinkling” keywords. This can be a small amount of relevant content, or a significant chunk. This can help you carry more payload.

Slide #28 (on making the homepage more user-friendly):

Refer to my previous point. “Sprinkling”, which works particularly well on the homepage, is a good choice, but I recommend you leave your homepage long by default, regardless if you have experienced a ranking freefall. Relevant post

Top 10 Ways Local Business Owners Cantank the All-Important Website, and How You can Get Yours Right

Slide 33 (on adding more interlinks): I would recommend that you focus on the links to your most important pages. I wouldn’t be concerned about the anchor text but I wouldn’t mind being penalized. In all my 127 years of experience in SEO, I have never seen a site get hacked for using heavy internal linking. However, I have seen many sites get untied after they started to use internal linking. Google can tell you which pages are important by using internal links. They can also make it easier for visitors.

Slide #35 (on merging webpages that compete for the exact same terms): Search in the “Performance” -> “Queries” area of Search Console to find 2 or more pages (or even posts0) that rank for the same terms, or similar terms. Copy any relevant content from page “A”, and move it to page “B”. Then, 301-redirect page B to page A.

Are your rankings slipping?

Questions about the slides, cheat sheet parts, or color commentary?

Leave comments!