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'Dang it, I could have sworn I saw an SEO business around here somewhere!'

About a month ago we received a letter from Google congratulating us on the number of times Google users found our business listing between July 1 and September 30, 2009.

They said ‘Because you’re so popular, we’re enclosing a window decal that shows customers you’re a “Favorite Place on Google”.’

I know of at least two other local web design companies who received the same letter and decal. Google concluded the letter with ‘Congratulations on your popularity on Google. We look forward to providing you with more and better ways to grow your business.’

Well, we’re not a favorite place on Google anymore, because Google has decided to exclude SEO and web design/development local listings from the web results (see Google Maps forum thread).

Before exclusion our local listing averaged:

  • 894 impressions a month
  • with 77 click-throughs

Since exclusion we’ve averaged:

  • approx. 52 impressions a month
  • with just one click-through

If Google felt it appropriate to congratulate us on how popular we are with their users, which indicates the local interest in our services, why are they now ‘intentionally showing less local results for web design / SEO queries’?

An additional consequence of Google?s decision is that since helping businesses with their local business listings is one of the services we offer we can no longer use the ranking of our own local listing as an example of our capability and knowledge. In fact it?s possible that our potential customers may wonder whether we have a good understanding of how Google local listings work since we no longer appear in local searches.

Ultimately though, my main concern is that Google is arbitrarily filtering information with no convincing rational behind their decision. Do we really want to use Google Maps as our primary source of local business information if they can’t provide the same fair and balanced results that they supposedly do for their search product?

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