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Thread: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Pigeon isn't all bad. I know we've mainly been complaining about the negative.
    But there are winners too, and it pays to try to figure out what they are doing right!

    Remember in recent days before the algo changed, when you could typically only rank in the city the business is located in? Things have changed post-pigeon and I'm seeing some packs where 50% or more of the businesses are from other cities.

    So to me now it looks like Google is picking what it thinks are the strongest businesses in the AREA, not limited to just the query city.

    BUT when I see a listing ranking in the spot that's not in city of the query, I take notice!

    Wanted to share 2 cases. If we can figure out what makes these 2 rank in the spot even though in a different city, then we might get important clues about this new algo!

    This all started with a video I watched over the weekend, which was an interview with a marketer by the name of Scott Davis. I share the video at the end that talks about his views on Pigeon and what he does to rank his client, who sits in the spot in a competitive Dallas 3 pack, even though not located in Dallas.

    Scott said in a G+ post:

    "Just pay Yext or Moz local... don't waste your own time, it's worth too much..."

    "Google "appliance repair Dallas ", you'll find north Dallas appliance repair #1. I don't do link building aside from G+ and I'm destroying the competition in a highly competitive vertical...
    I use Yext."
    So of course I went out and checked out his client and this is what I discovered.


    Here is a screenshot of Scott's client's 3 Pack Map.
    (B is down in Dallas proper which is cut out of the map radius. Talk about stretching the map!)

    dallasappliance2


    QUERY: "Dallas Appliance Repair" (A pretty competitive market I would think.)
    The spot is Scott's client "North Dallas Appliance Repair" (3 pack, so even harder + has the least reviews.)
    He also ranks for "Appliance Repair IN Dallas" (And that one is a 7 pack.)
    The business is NOT in Dallas, but is in Richardson.

    Yes, I realize Dallas is in name and domain but there are 40+ other companies right in Dallas proper and some also have Dallas in the name. They aren't in the 3 pack.

    I watched Scott's video Sunday then moved on. Later, I was researching a rank drop for a user on the G forum who stopped ranking for KW + Zip. I stumbled on an interesting SERP for a different KW.

    QUERY: "Dentist 92220" (Searching for a specific Zip in Banning Ca.)
    The spot? "Beaumont Smiles Dentistry and Orthodontics"
    Located in Beaumont, not Banning. Zip is 92223, not 92220

    And Banning is nowhere on the website!!! So not only is this listing not located in the query zip or that city - but it's not even optimized for that city/zip. And Banning or that zip is not in any backlink anchors or anything that I can find either. Big ranking puzzle!

    So here we have a case of searching not just for a city, but very specifically for a zip code.
    Why is Google ranking this one above the other Dentists that ARE in Zip 92220 and ARE in that city?
    (I counted over 30 other listings with a Banning address.)

    Like I said, when someone ranks outside their city and ESPECIALLY if they rank #1, I want to find out what they are doing, so I dug in and researched all the usual things, but did not find any reason that one should rank for a Banning zip.

    Scott's video was fresh in my mind and he implied in the G+ comments that the main thing he did to rank was use Yext. Sooo... I decided to see if Yext listings leave a footprint that can be tracked. (Wasn't sure if Yext would be mentioned, since they are directory listings on other sites.)

    Did a search for:"North Dallas Appliance Repair" "Yext" and found lots of listings. The Yext footprint was easy to spot for Scott's client.

    So then just for grins, I tried the same thing for that Banning ranking puzzle I couldn't figure out.
    Fat chance that Beaumont Dentist was using Yext too, or so I thought.

    Did a search for: "Beaumont Smiles Dentistry" "Yext" and found lots of listings.
    So he's using Yext afterall too. Interesting...

    So then, just for fun, I went our ranking puzzle forum. I was thinking, what if Yext is the missing piece to some of these ranking puzzles when we ask "Why does this listing rank #1?" (I was totally just playing and researching at this point.)

    I just went to the 1st thread and there Mariano was puzzled about why a particular attorney was ranking in the spot. We had all jumped in previously and tried to figure out why, but didn't get very far. So I searched for "Attorney Practice Name" "Yext" and yes, they are using Yext too.

    Interesting... whether a competitor is using Yext or not, could be an important piece of the ranking puzzle.

    If you know me well - you know where I went next! "Seattle Chiro". The listing that almost always ranks #1 even though it's farthest from centroid? The one that jumped to the top of the pack right after Pigeon hit. Always wondered about that one! Did a Yext search and sure enough - yes they are using Yext too. "Seattle Chiropractic and Wellness Center" "Yext".

    TAKEAWAY

    Now I know correlation is not causation - I totally get that! And I am not saying the listings above all rank high solely because they are using Yext! They likely are doing other things right as well.

    Plus I realize it could possibly be that the prime factor is simply that due to using Yext, they have all those listings that are perfectly consistent. Maybe they could have gotten the same effect with manual submissions? But I just have to wonder... What do you think??? Any theories?

    Now this could all be just coincidence, but I just think it's curious that with 4 ranking puzzles in a row that I researched Sunday - all were tough listings that are far from centroid or out of town, all 4 spots, and all 4 were using Yext. (It kinda got me going, as you can tell.)

    RANKING TROUBLESHOOTING & COMPETITIVE RESEARCH

    I wanted to share all this, mainly to let you guys know that you might want to do Yext research like I did above, when you have a client that says "how come that guy ranks and I don't". Or if you see a ranking puzzle where you just can't figure out why someone is ranking so high - you might want to research to see if Yext is part of their strategy. If it's not, then fine. But if it is, then you know that may be part of their edge. And a Yext specific search is likely not something you'd think about doing had you not read this post.

    As mentioned, the Yext footprint is easy to spot. You can do other search combos too, like add "Powerlistings" to the query. However I found some of the links and mentions did not say Powerlistings, but most said Yext. Sometimes in my searches it was pulling other related entries if the name was too generic, so sometimes I would add street or phone to the search query to be sure I was only getting listings for that business.

    Anyway, just thought it was interesting, so thought I'd share.


    TriggerCast: Scott Davis - How to Beat Pigeon and Dominate Local SEO

    Below is the video interview with Scott that started the thrust of this whole post. He got me thinking about how to rank #1 in the next city and it sounds like the main thing he is doing is using Yext. He also has an interesting theory about outranking directories...



    OK so I ended up writing a book again. Sorry this got so long.

    But when I see an spot, that's ranking and is not even in the query city - it gets me going and I have to figure out why.

    What do you think of the examples above? Interesting correlation???

    What do you think Yext tip for competitive research when doing ranking troubleshooting?



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  2. Members who thanked Linda Buquet for this post:

    billbean (10-10-2014),Scott Rawlins (10-08-2014),Tim Colling (10-11-2014)

  3. #2
    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Wanted to mention that often cases like the 1st and 2nd one above are referred to as "outliers". Someone at SMX just mentioned, maybe it was David Mihm, that when you find outliers like that, always study them to see how they are ranking, even though far from the centroid or out of the city.

    Plus wanted to link again to a great post Phil Rozek recently, did where he talked about how to widen the radius and be included in the pack if you are located outside the current search radius.

    Phil calls it "stretching the map" which is I believe a term coined by Joy Hawkins.

    Talk about stretching the map! Look at that A spot in the image above. It stretched the map so far north of Dallas, that the city of Dallas is not even in the map radius. Pretty crazy!
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Interesting stuff Linda! I checked a few that I've seen.

    For "Attorney Jackson TN", the ones super far from the city center don't use Yext.

    However for "auto insurance philadelphia", the top ranking listing does - Freedom Insurance Group Inc. | Life Insurance Philadelphia PA
    Joy Hawkins
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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Thanks Joy, I figured you and Colan would be all over that idea for ranking troubleshooting!

    And obviously the point is not that every high ranking site is using Yext. It's just that when one is ranking high that's a ranking puzzle because it does not seem to have much going for it OR is far from centroid - I think doing a Yext search is part of the research that could tell the tale.

    After hitting those 4 in a row - I know on all the ranking puzzles I try to help folks solve, it's going to be high on my list of things to check.
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    RE the Dallas Appliance Repair query: Oft times the 3 Pack is presented for a branded search. You see it with Starbucks. Since Hummingbird, and even more so with Pigeon, brand has taken on "extra" value.

    In this case, it might be a matter of "Exact Match" business name not domain driving the result. This might be one of those ambiguous situations where Google, finding a close match on the name, thinks the user is searching for companies by that name or close to that name NOT keywords.
    billbean and JoshuaMackens like this.

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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Mike I think you're dead on. A good exmpale of this is "Crossfit Eugene OR". There are like 10 Crossfit locations but one of them is actually called "Eugene Crossfit" and this business gets a 1-box.

    If you look up "Crossfit Gym Eugene OR" you'll see tons of others.

    What would you say is the best way to convince Google that this query is not in fact a branded search (AKA - break the one-box!)?
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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Thanks Mike. I totally agree that "Exact Match" business names carrying a lot of weight.

    Had not noticed that fact though that maybe Google is thinking it's a brand search and that's why it's showing a 3 pack.

    But there are lots of other exact match names so you'd think if G thought it was maybe a brand search, then in the 3 pack it would be showing other exact match guesses like:

    One of the 8 EMD listings for "Dallas Appliance Repair"
    Or
    "Appliance Repair Dallas"
    "Dallas Appliance Repair Solutions"
    "NW Dallas Appliance Repair"
    "Dallas Metro Appliance Repair"

    Or one of the other almost exact matches that are right in Dallas.

    One of the 1st things I checked was if there were other almost exact match business names right in Dallas and there quite a few. Guess it's hard to figure out what she's thinking sometimes.
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Exact Match Domain is killing it where I see issues.

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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Very interesting Linda.

    If I get some time, I'll do some research as well.

    I agree with Mike on the brand search conclusion.

    Also agree with the above poster about exact match domain names and business names absolutely crushing it right now.
    Tutelary Marketing, Owner
    Local Listing Ninja

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    Linda Buquet's Avatar
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    Re: Thriving Post-Pigeon - Tale of 2 Listings that Rank #1 in the Next City Over

    Yes but EMDs crushed it before Pigeon too. Don't think I ever saw one rank outside the city.
    But again, lots of things are different now.

    I'm curious about Mike's brand search triggers a 3 pack observation. Not that I doubt it, but just had not tuned into it before. So will be checking that out when I can. Seems like there was a case here recently that could apply to and help solve a puzzle, will try to find it.
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