On March 15th, the WP Total Cache plugin on this site for some reason started serving Googlebot 403 response codes (aka “Access Denied”):
403 Access Denied Errors

As you can see organic entrances to my site via the home page have tanked over the past couple of days:

Local SEO Guide home page organic traffic

While traffic to other pages was down about 20% on Monday, it hasn’t totally cratered probably because Googlebot hasn’t crawled most of the other pages yet and hit the 403s.

One of the more interesting results of this psycho plug-in issue is that it clearly shows the relative speed of Google’s “organic” or “non-local” algo v. it’s “local” algo. On any given day, this site typically ranks #1 or #2 for “local seo” in the “organic” results. And over the past year or so, Google has decided that “local seo” queries should trigger a local pack. When I search from Pleasanton, CA, I am usually #1 in the local pack as well. Now when you search, you can see I am still #1 in the local pack, but I am nowhere to be seen in the organic results:

Google Local Results for local seo

(click to enlarge)

So if you ever wonder why sometimes it takes a long time to dislodge the #1 listing in the local pack, one likely reason is that Google’s local algo just takes its own damn time.

PostScript: About 9 hours ago I fixed the problem on my site and resubmitted the home page to Google via GWT. I am now seeing it rank #1 for “local seo” again. That organic algo is pretty damn fast.

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5 Response Comments

  • Dharam Chaudhari  March 18, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Thanks Andrew for Sharing ! I felt the same way with one of my client’s site. Thanks for your view.

  • Gene  March 18, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    You’re showing #1 organic for me, new browser session incognito.

    • Andrew Shotland  March 18, 2014 at 9:25 pm

      Allah be praised! Thanks Gene.

  • Blake Denman  March 19, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Caffeine is our friend.

    Google+ Local/Places/Pages/Maps is like sugar. All perky at first, and then the inevitable crash 😉