Local Rankings Dropped? Check These 5 Things

This page was last updated on August 7, 2023.

Local citationsWhen your local keyword rankings drop, it can be very frustrating to figure out why, and you may not know where to start to solve it. Use this handy list of various things you can check to give yourself a better idea of how to bounce back.

To Start, What Is Google’s Local Pack?

Google’s Local Pack, also referred to as the Google Map Pack, is a part of the search engine results when you perform a localized query. For example, if I were to look up “car wash near me” or even “car wash Cleveland,” the Local Pack would look something like this:

car wash cleveland local pack results

Based on what you look up, Google will show at least the top three local results. The ranking in the Local Pack is determined by a variety of factors that Google deems valuable, such as proximity and prominence.

Why Ranking in the Local Pack Is Important

Ranking in Google’s Local Pack is incredibly important when it comes to receiving a boost in organic traffic to your website. With 42% of all local users clicking on the Map Pack when making local queries, it is now more important than ever to ensure that your business is located in the top three.

With that in mind, here are some things you should be checking if you see a drop in your local rankings, as well as numerous strategies your business can utilize going forward.

5 Things You Should Evaluate

What Businesses Are Currently Ranking?

When you do a search for one of the keywords you have dropped for, pay attention to who is now in the top three in the Local Pack and take a deeper dive into their profiles and website by evaluating the following:

  • How close are they to the area you want to rank in vs. your location?
  • How many reviews do they have? What is their average review rating?
  • Are they using keywords in their business name?
  • What type of content do they have on their website that is linked?
  • How many backlinks do they have? Do they have local links?

Keeping an eye on your local competition and tracking these types of things can help give you a better sense of how Google ranks business profiles.

Is Your Profile Being Filtered?

Something to also consider is that your profile is being filtered. For example, if you have more than one location in an area, Google could now be filtering out the profile you want to rank for with another if they deem it more relevant. In other cases, it could be that you are located in an office also being used by other competitors in your industry.

Did New Spam Sneak In?

As we mentioned earlier, checking for keywords being used in business names could be a huge indicator of why your rankings dropped. Thankfully, there is a way to alert Google of businesses spamming the map listings and to get the extra keywords removed. You can use our handy guide to spam submissions to get started.

Additionally, if you are continuously seeing spammy competitors ranking in the Local Pack, it may be crucial to fill out a Google Business Redressal Complaint Form, which can be considered a step up from the normal “suggest an edit” feature on Google Maps.

What Justifications Are Being Shown the Most?

Justifications are special snippets of information Google pulls from a profile’s reviews, posts, services, or even websites. Based on what you see in the search results, it could prompt you to:

  • Check what services you have in your GBP and add any more you see that competitors are using
  • Kindly ask customers to be specific when leaving reviews
  • Add posts more often
  • Check the copy on your website

Are Others Seeing Similar Shifts?

In some cases, what could be making your rankings fluctuate is an update from Google. Thankfully, you can use the Local Search Forum and even X/Twitter (try checking out what is new under the #localseo hashtag) to see what others in the local SEO community are talking about.

The Local SEO Checklist: What You Should Do When Your Rankings Drop

Though we have discussed some of the things you should be checking when you notice your local rankings drop, here is an in-depth list of strategies you should implement to help improve your local ranking overall:

Completely fill out your GBP

As if you were window shopping, your Google Business Profile is the first thing visitors see when they search through local results. That is why it is incredibly important to claim and completely fill out your profile with the most up-to-date information possible.

This includes adding your services, photos, hours of operation, post updates, and so much more. To help customers learn what your business is all about, make sure you also include a keyword-optimized description, as well as attach any answered FAQs directly to your GBP.

It is also very important to make sure people are leaving detailed reviews on your profile. 76% of individuals are known to read online reviews, so having an array of opinions attached to your profile will only help potential customers learn more about your products and services.

Optimize Local Landing Pages

Keyword usage can play a role in why you are dropping in the Local Pack. Because this may be the case, we often recommend updating your site’s pages frequently with a new keyword bank based on current research. Keep in mind that even though you are adding new keywords to your page, you want those existing keywords to stay on the page as well so you can still rank for them. So, replace some instances, but not all of them!

Pro tip: Including long-tail keywords on your web pages can help you target niche products and services that you offer while also taking advantage of a less competitive search term.

Other things you should apply to optimized pages include:

  • Internal links – Build the overall equity of your site by linking your pages together.
  • Original copy – Any duplicate and AI-generated copy is not seen as valuable by Google.
  • Lengthier content – Google values pages that have more long-form content, so try to get the pages of your site to at least 1,000 words, if not more.

Check Your Backlink Profiles

Checking your backlink profiles is a great way to figure out if you have either gained or lost valuable links, which can be a leading reason why your local ranking would drop. You can easily check your backlinks if you have profiles on providers like Moz, Ahrefs or SE Ranking, but if not, you can also use free resources such as this Backlink Checker Tool.

Finally, checking on your competitors, as stated previously, may seem like a never-ending task, but it is a great way to ensure that the tactics you are implementing are on par with your competitors. That is why we recommend keeping track of the backlink opportunities (a document or spreadsheet format works great) your competitors receive and seeing if you can also get backlinks from those same opportunities. This is a great way to keep track of what keywords they are ranking for as well.

Need Help With Local SEO? Talk to Our Experts

Our team has more than 25 collective years of helping businesses of all kinds improve their keyword rankings and get more leads online through SEO. Chat with our team today to see if we can help do the same for your business!

Sarah Blocksidge

About the Author

Sarah Blocksidge

Sarah is the Marketing Director at Sixth City Marketing and has been with the company since 2016. Her main role is to attract more B2B clients for the company. Over the years, she has been mentioned on HubSpot, Content Marketing Institute, Fast Company, Mashable, and many other notable sites.

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