• http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/ Linda Buquet

    Excellent points Chris!

    Businesses that DO move (hopefully for legit reasons, not to game Google) also should be aware, you can’t just edit your existing G+ Local listing. You need to mark the old location closed and start a new listing. This creates a new CID so you essentially start over in the ranking cycle, as well as losing previous reviews and citations as Chris mentioned.

  • David Burdon

    Yup the centroid can be a real locational problem. However, in the UK this is also
    affected by postcode. I worked for a hotel in city of 200,000 people that had the “wrong”
    postcode, despite it being the second nearest hotel to the centroid in strict distance terms.
    Hotels, with the “right” postcode, a mile further out of the city, found
    it easier to get ranked. The hotel was 500 years old, so relocating it was out of the question!

  • Silver Smith

    David, postal code errors can be nightmarish in the US as well. In a number of local directories, when you try to enter a business address, the directory system may not even allow you to do so if they have an incorrect city/postal-code association in their database. If Google determines your post code is outside of the city outline, it could indeed affect your likelihood of ranking.
    Were you tempted to change the postcode to an incorrect one, just to see if that would help enable your hotel’s likely-deserved rankings in Google?

  • http://twitter.com/seocharlie Carlos Chacón l SEO

    Great post Chris!
    I do believe Google can´t understand the relocation quickly and it can be
    confusing and frustrating if you have some SERP´s already. We don´t have this
    issue in small countries or cities like mine (San Jose, Costa Rica), but local
    signs are more important for ranking purposes now than ever. Maybe the ccTLD
    should be useful in cases like that.

  • http://twitter.com/SEOPRO4U SEOPRO4U

    Because SEO is about doing many things well, relocation to a more “relevant” or geo-centric area could be a positive factor in rankings. If you’re already considering relocation, it couldn’t hurt to use this metric as one of many factors in selecting a location. I would not base relocation on this alone, but it could fit into an overall strategy. It’s all about the edge.

  • http://twitter.com/winlocal WinLocal GmbH

    Great post! Thx

    Relocation can cause real problems, particularly with Google+ Local. It’s important to keep track of local citations and take the time to update them. Otherwise Google might create dublicate listings on Plus Local again and again. We’ve also seen clients whose new and old address was being mixed up as a result of local citations, which was very frustrating for business owners.

  • http://twitter.com/MySweetiQ Sweet IQ

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Chris.
    I agree with you when you say “consider bringing locational popularity to you, instead of chasing after it” This is what I call a “Pull” strategy and I think it would definitely bring better results.

  • http://twitter.com/N0LAJoe Joseph Henson

    Awesome post, Chris! To add another level of issue with relocation, a good deal of businesses don’t even REALLY relocate. They purchase a virtual office address (>.<) smack dab in the middle of the "centroid" and end up using the same exact address (often the same suite number) as other businesses that are already using that virtual office service.

  • Silver Smith

    True. Google has contributed to this, unfortunately, since they have pushed addressless businesses to suppress their location and select “service areas”, which will not rank as effectively.

  • Silver Smith

    I should have also quoted what many others recommended in search marketing: “Focus on quality, and stop trying to chase the algorithm.” But, I also think that if people had better understanding of the algorithmic processes and trends, they’d be more likely to choose sustainable, longterm strategies instead of chasing the algo.

  • Silver Smith

    Exactly. People should be aware that relocation brings with it significant risks to search rankings. Best to avoid for mere ranking goals — relocate to satisfy other business needs.

  • Silver Smith

    I agree that location is definitely a factor, but there are so many other factors which don’t incur similar risks that it very nearly cancels any potential advantage. It’s about like starting anew!

  • Silver Smith

    Thanks, Carlos. Google local algorithms sometimes seem to lag behind in updating for non-US and non-European countries. So, it’s possible that Costa Rican algorithms might be still on an older version. Also, I know that Google has special teams devoted to specific regions, and I’ve seen UI and algorithms operate differently in other countries than in the US — it’s unclear to me how Google decides what will be standard for each country’s local search system. Undoubtedly, the PlaceRank popularity signals are the same or very similar in many cases, but I know it’s also complicated by how robust (or not) the data is in countries such as in Central America.

  • Silver Smith

    Yes, it does not seem an ideal way for them to handle it.

  • Jason Lancaster

    Centroid or no, the fact remains that businesses operating outside the city center are less likely to show up in search results than businesses operating in a nearby suburb. While I’m sure you’re technically correct when you say centroid doesn’t matter, the larger point hasn’t changed. If your metro area is small enough to be referred to with a single city name, but large enough to have multiple suburbs, it’s wise to open an office in the main city.

    In other words, you can’t rank in the local results pack for “Denver career counselor” without moving into Denver, even if most people in the Denver metro would be willing to travel to Aurora, Lakewood, Littleton, or half a dozen other suburbs.

    SO, to sum up, we should remove the word “centroid” from our vocabulary but keep talking about being in the middle of whatever metro area are clients are marketing to, as that’s basically what you’re saying. Correct?

  • http://www.facebook.com/albanylawyer Warren Redlich

    One strategy would be to stay in your present location but open a new office in the desired location, even if it’s a satellite office.

  • http://twitter.com/TorusCopywriter Torus Copywriter

    No point selling plumbing to New Delhi when you live in New York

  • http://twitter.com/BrewSEO BrewSEO

    Did you know that business in the centroid of America rank higher than companies on the coasts? That is why Omniture ranks higher than it’s competitors ;)

  • Thomas Zickell

    I do some investing and I partnered with a company that is national however the services we provide are ones that are looked at primarily for people that don’t believe that they can be handled by a national company but only done by local people for workers if I may say. For us to have virtual offices everywhere represents the truth unfortunately Google might not see it that way so we use our people will give you X off your then have to legally make a make them nothing less than a official office of our company. I believe Google’s algorithm checks publicly available information about where one lives or has a office. They should allow a company like ours to simply prove ourselves to be real operators in that area there are many ways of doing it I’m sure Google has thought of a lot of them however I do know from personal experience virtual offices to work Google does catch on the penalty was not so bad. To Google it appears we look like we are changing or adding I should say because that is the truth offices constantly. It is been a year of refinement to find out what the sweet spot is only to know cool play with the numbers again and the arithmetic with different however what a lot of you gentlemen have said is correct I believe Google wants what their people want and for you to have strong strong brand. Think our users would handle somebody misleading them in business if you do that you will not fare well most likely if you do farewell you most likely don’t deserve it. We all know after panda and Penguin there’s no more free lunch were not even allowed to beat up a kid for lunch money anymore in some ways it’s good in others it’s bad. I will stop babbling and leave you with this I truly believe that Google checks the local records how do I believe this we are ranking for very competitive keywords in every major city.

  • Thomas Zickell

    How do you rank on the U.S. Postal Service they are extremely sane organization with no history of crazy or odd behavior. I’m so mad I may go postal just kidding of course kinda

  • Thomas Zickell

    did you do it On the website as well? and directories? many many buildings are used by more than company or subsidiary of the company they are tied together maybe but legally they are separate entities Google understands this and I believe you should have had no trouble doing exactly what you explained.

  • http://twitter.com/jamesatbuzz James @ Buzz Online

    Centroid, as I understand it, totally matters! There’s no doubt about it, and it’s kind of horrendous i.e the results are not as good as they could be (read; lame!). Look at seafood restaurants Seattle. Those for the most part do not give “as good a rendition or impression of Seattle seafood restaurants as is possible” – for the most part they do exist on the waterfront smack in the middle of downtown Seattle, or in downtown Seattle proper (Blueacre) or in the Pike Place Market – about a 1 mile radius. No problem w/ the results as far as the restaurants are concerned minus the Crab Pot (come on!). And they’r’e big, clunky looking results – just the design – and it looks awful. Is that the absolute BEST Google and it’s 10k employees can do? Honestly? Really? Anyway, these results don’t showcase other – more popular Seattle neighborhoods. Downtown Seattle is not “as” popular on any metric as Capitol Hill, Ballard, and surrounding Seattle neighborhoods, both as far as restaurants are concerned, and great Seafood spots as well – again, for the most part, great Seafood results as far as the individual businesses are concerned. As far as Seattle restaurant search results are concerned, these examples go on all day long. Frustrating.

  • http://twitter.com/eadamquinn E Adam Quinn

    Great read; seems like businesses who are willing to move to change rankings should really be focusing on their core business. One thing I have been considering is the effect of mobile search on local results, where the user is actually the centroid – effectively eliminating any sort of control you can have over proximity (unless you figured out a way to stalk mobile users).

    Local search still seems to be the wild west. I am excited to see how things shake down.