Up Close With Google Place Pages - Do Directories Really Matter For Local Search Rankings In Google?


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My presentation from SMX West 2011 in which some detailed research appears to reveal that directories may not have as direct an impact on map rankings as might seem. Inbound links and anchor text seem to carry a lot of weight in regard to rankings. Please note that this presentation and data are from March 2011. Google Places has been updating its algorithm noticeably over the past year. Be sure to stay on top of the latest changes.

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Up Close With Google Place Pages - Do Directories Really Matter For Local Search Rankings In Google?

  1. 1. Up Close With Google Place Pages March 8, 2011
  2. 2. Max Thomas - Thunder SEO• Online Marketing Agency• Focus on SEO, SMM & Related Campaigns• Based in San Diego, CA• 10 Person Team• Do a lot of local search campaign that bring together “local search”, SEO, social media, sweepstakes, brand building, PR and local involvement.
  3. 3. “dentist los angeles” Dr. Azar Mehr Dental Practice
  4. 4. GoalDetermine what distinguishes the listingsthat rank on Page 1 Google for “dentistlos angeles” from those that don’t.-Does the information listed in Google PlacePages reveal a pattern that might “predict”rankings?-Are there any metrics that can “predict”rankings?
  5. 5. Analysis Process1. Google Places – Look at “Details”, “Photo/Video”, “Reviews”, “Coupons” and “More About” for all indexed information and directories & sources where information is pulled from.2. Citations – Look at URLs and Domains for all instances of business Name, Address and Phone (NAP).3. SEO Metrics (Inbound Links) – Look at quantity and quality of inbound links, including link anchor text and city/dentist relevancy of inbound linking URLs.
  6. 6. Sample Set- All non-Page 1 ranking listings are in the same zip codes as the listingsthat do rank.- There is an unusual outlier with the Westin Bonaventure Hotel that hasno relevancy for “dentists” but very high relevancy for “los angeles”.
  7. 7. Google Place Pages: Summary What does the Google Place Pages information reveal?Not too much.Issue: Google Maps does not show all of a business’scitations, details, etc., so these data points don’t revealtrends that are predictive of rankings.
  8. 8. Google Place Pages: Details-“Details” from owner website consistent for Page 1 rankings- Multiple directory sources not consistent- Dental directories not consist
  9. 9. Google Place Pages: Reviews- All listings have reviews- Page 1 listings Google reviews- Number of reviews & number of sources not significant factor- Reviews on dental directories not significant- All listings have above average ratings (sentiment)
  10. 10. Citations / Domains- Source: Whitespark’s Local Citation Finder Tool- Google Place Pages do NOT show all online sources & directories- Citations alone do NOT predict rankings (see Beverly Hills Family Dentist)
  11. 11. Inbound Links (Page Authority)- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org)- Page Authority higher for Page 1 ranking listings (44 to 61)- Domain Authority higher too (33 to 86)- Inbound linking domains higher- Exception is Los Angeles Dental Clinic – Why?
  12. 12. Anchor Text of Inbound Links- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org)- Most of Page 1 ranking listings have exact-match anchor text- Strongest predictor of rankings yet- Outliers
  13. 13. Outlier: Beverly Hills Family Dentist- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org) & Whitespark- Page 1 ranking- No citations- 2nd highest number of inbound links with exact match anchor text- Does anchor text outweigh citations as predictor of ranking?
  14. 14. Outlier: Los Angeles Dental Clinic- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org) & Whitespark- 91 citations- High page authority- No exact-match anchor text- Many inbound links with anchor text that includes target phrase
  15. 15. Outlier: Los Angeles Dental Clinic- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org)- No exact-match anchor text for “dentist los angeles”- Seems like listing should rank – What are we missing?
  16. 16. Relevancy of Inbound Linking URLs- Source: OpenSiteExplorer (SEOmoz.org)- Page 1 rankings link from pages with “dentist” and “los angeles” in titles- Not so with Westin Bonaventure but every URL has hotel’s LA address- Strongest predictor of rankings yet!
  17. 17. Optimal Recipe for Local Search Results 1. Inbound links from URL’s that reference “los angeles” and “dentist” in the title tags, and on-page as well. 2. Inbound links from as many domains and URL’s as possible with the exact-match anchor text “los angeles dentist” or “dentist los angeles”. 3. Strong footprint of highly relevant and authority inbound links (as seen via the Page and Domain Authority metrics). 4. Owner-verified Google Places listing that indexes business information from the business owner website and shows reviews from Google Maps and other review sources. 5. A healthy number of URL’s and domains (citations) that list the business Name, Address and Phone (NAP).
  18. 18. TakeawayFor local search rankings, inbound links matter.Specifically highly relevant and authority links forcity and industry, AND links with exact-matchanchor text.Citations (NAP) are important but do not predictrankings on their own.See ThunderSEO.com for full analysis & results:“Do Directories Really Matter for Local Search Rankings in Google”
  19. 19. “dentist los angeles” Dr. Azar Mehr Dental Practice
  20. 20. Thank You!Max Thomasmax@thunderseo.com @thundermax Facebook.com/thunderseo