Last September Google implemented an algorithm that tended to favor proximity over quality. In other words, how close the search was to the business had a huge impact on the result. Consequently, any sort of local SEO effort was met with very little improvement - if any. We saw results diminish no matter what we did as the results simply accumulated around the general vicinity of the searcher. That has changed!
Recently, Google has recognized that close does not necessarily mean best. Let's be honest, businesses that care about their search visibility probably also care more about their overall presentation. They are more focused on quality and professionalism. SEO should play a role in helping these businesses rise above the average. Those business were duly rewarded.
Toward the end of August, Google diminished the proximity as a major influence (diminished but not eliminated). Most of our clients who had continued to focus on the quality of their site and SEO saw a HUGE jump in local search results. The two arrows in the image show when Googles algorithms were implemented.