I moved my business to a new office about 6 months ago and am have had local ranking issues ever since. Apologies if this is a long post, but I wanted to outline what has happened since the move as this seems to be a bit of an unusual issue.
I run a web design business (example(dot)com) that was previously located in Hornchurch. The site was up for a fairly long time, I did not carry out much SEO work on it and designed it to be fairly simple, without stuffing it too full of content/keywords. As I had a stream of work coming in at the time I left it at that. Over the space of a year it gradually moved up in rank, and as Google's algorithms progressively lowered the rank of more spammy sites, mine rose to the top. Eventually late last year I gained top spot for "web design hornchurch" and was on the first page for "web design east london".
I then moved the business to an office in Brighton in October of last year. I immediately updated the address on my Google Places listing, and this is where the trouble began. The process went a bit like this:
- Changed address to Brighton, Google Maps didn't update the marker for over a month.
- Emailed Google through the places settings, they told me "yes there is a problem" and said submit it through Maps.
- Submitted a problem through maps, Google replied saying "yes there is a problem, submit it through Places".
- Frustrated, I wondered if the search radius settings might have been the issue since the settings panel had changed since I first listed it. However, it would not let me change it without turning on "I deliver goods and services to my customers at their location" since the system had changed to auto-select the right settings. As a test, I turned it on and changed my delivery radius. Immedietely the marker jumped to Brighton.
- I thought this is probably a Places bug, so I switched the setting off again. Suddenly the marker was back in Hornchurch. Figuring it might take time to update, I waited a week. No change.
- I turned the setting back on, and set service area to specific places. Now the marker moved to Brighton again, but used the previous service radius setting.
- I then set it to a service radius, and the marker changed to the previous areas I had selected. It seemed to be one step behind what I was doing, no matter how long I waited for it to update.
- I turned it all off again, and the marker was back in Hornchurch.
- I repeated this process several times and eventually the marker "stuck" in the new location after I turned off the delivery/service radius option.
At this point I thought my issues were solved. How wrong I was.
Although the places marker had moved, Google for some reason still seems absolutely convinced (according to organic search rankings) that the business is still in Hornchurch. A search for "web design brighton" does not list the site on any
page, and it has been this way for half a year.
At first I thought maybe an algorithm change was responsible, but it is now clear this is not the case. How do I know this? Because searching for "web design hornchurch" still
puts me on the first page this long after the move. If I had been penalised for a poor quality site, surely I wouldn't rank for that at all? Webmaster tools shows no penalties.
There is no reference to Hornchurch left anywhere on the site or in the source code, and it has been this way for quite some time. I have also gone through all other sites/profiles that I have control over and changed the location to Brighton to make sure this is not a backlink issue. Even the website server is now in Brighton but that has made no difference.
I understand that Brighton is probably more competitive for web design that Hornchurch, and I do not mind improving the site to work my way up the rankings, but it all seems a bit pointless when I don't have a starting point in the search results. I do have a site redesign in the works, including new content, a blog, keyword-specific service subpages, responsive layout etc. but it's all a bit of a last ditch effort since I can't see how this is the problem in the first place.
The only way I have managed to rank for anything at all is PPC, I ran a campaign for "web design brighton" for a while and Google had no issue with the relevance of the landing page to the term, but this seems to me to be quite a pricey way of "fixing" the problem given the high competition. Pausing the campaign did not put me back in the organic results, the site is nowhere to be found again (except for Hornchurch results).
I can't help but feel that Google has somehow tied my domain to the Hornchurch location given the weird Places problems at the start of this process and the fact that the site still ranks highly for searches in that area, but I have no idea how to fix this since they seem to be very specific about the issues they will accept questions on.
This has all had a very large impact on my business. I am starting to feel like advertising in local newspapers would be more useful and that any SEO at this point is a waste of my time and effort.
Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.
[edited by: anallawalla at 1:29 am (utc) on Apr 1, 2014]
[edit reason] Examplified the company name in URL [/edit]