Why We Aren’t Ranking First for “Point A Traverse City”

How Your Business Name Affects Local Search

What’s in a name? When it comes to local search, quite a lot, actually.

Take our company, for instance. Legally speaking, the name of our agency is “PointA” (no space). However, we’re well aware that some of our customers are searching for us by typing in “Point A” (with a space). After all, that’s how people are accustomed to spelling it.

But we were fairly confident that this disparity wouldn’t be detrimental to our business.Google Results for PointA Traverse City

After all, Google is great at handling plurals, misspellings and any number of slight variations in the billions of words we type into that little box every day. They’ve made a big deal about RankBrain, the third most important ranking factor in their algorithm, which uses machine learning and pattern recognition to get smarter at parsing queries over time.

Surely they’d be able to correctly interpret that PointA and Point A mean the same thing, especially when users include the geomodifier “Traverse City”? Right?


PointA Traverse City vs. Point A Traverse City

Welp, we were wrong.

In all honesty, we thought Google would be smart enough to figure this out. But if you search for “PointA Traverse City,” you’ll get much different results than if you search for “Point A Traverse City.” PointA returns our business front and center in the local pack, while the latter (Point A) positions us down the organic results below several other local businesses that also have “point” in their name.


Why is this happening?

Admittedly, the article “a” when it stands alone in the query like it does, is problematic. Without the context, it reads like a typo. It reads like you don’t know what you’re searching for. Or maybe like you meant to type “in” but instead typed “a.” Whatever the reason, Google doesn’t get what you’re asking.


Google Results for Point A Traverse City

Can anything be done about it?

Yes! If users are consistently searching for your local business using a wrong or inexact query, here are some steps you can take to educate or “train” the search engines:

  • Perform searches: Over and over again, search for your business with the wrong name, and then navigate to your website. Have your co-workers do it, too. Ask your friends and family to take three seconds out of their day to do it. RankBrain will eventually recognize this pattern and begin to understand the true intent behind those “incorrect” searches. It will realize, for example, that Point A is relevant for PointA.
  • Sometimes search engines could use a different kind of nudge. Submit questions and answers about your business name to Google My Business. Here’s a look at our GMB Q&A.
  • Create lots of good, locally focused content, and reach out to other companies in the area who might benefit from some of that content. Perhaps the local tourism board could use a guest post or two. A related strategy is to seek out links from other local companies: Did your company sponsor the local T-ball league? Did you fix the plumbing at the high school? Is your business a member of a local organization? Ask these places and others you have a relationship with if they can give you a shout-out and link to your site. Local links are an important indicator of relevance, so the more you have, the better. Most importantly, have some of these organizations intentionally use the incorrect spelling of your business name in their anchor text.


If your organic traffic (and sales!) are suffering because of a case of mistaken identity, while you work on educating search engines, you might want to consider supplementing that organic traffic with some paid advertising. At PointA, we offer affordable solutions for small businesses that need to get in front of customers when those people are searching for their products or services (or even when they’re searching for your company). Get in touch with one of our specialists for a no-hassle consultation.

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