So this is a follow-up to another ranking puzzle post here:
http://localsearchforum.catalystemar...eally-how.html

I didn't want to take that thread off topic, because this ranking puzzle is totally different than this one.

I hate to bring it up in a way because I can't share the link or KWs so have to just talk generically and I'm sorry because I know it's so much easier to SEE and dig into a listing. (BUT it's one of the high ranking clients I use in training and seeing his site would give away lots of the secret sauce techniques I teach in my Local SEO course.) So bare with the generic details. The point I'm making will be made totally clear.

HOW can a LOCAL site rank with NO title tag. NO H1. NO NAP. No local address or phone visible to spiders at all? NO TRADITIONAL ORGANIC SEO FACTORS PERIOD!

PLUS IT's a BRAND NEW SITE TO BOOT. (I don’t think there are any backlinks either.)

I told the client he could have NOTHING on the site that would tie NAP to his Place page yet. No NAP, no MAP, no optimized local content - not yet!


BACK STORY BELOW...

So this is a Dentist I optmized a couple years ago. He's always been #1 even though the site is SO old and template is crippled. I could not even do all my local hooks cuz template would just garble the code. But he still ranks #1, so hey...

He wanted to have a BRAND NEW SITE BUILT but we were both afraid if he just re-designed exisitng site the ranking may drop PLUS he wanted to use a diff domain.
The domain is the perfect EMD. City + Keyword.

So he came to me for consulting and I designed a strategy. I said go ahead and have new site built to link your PPC to. But while we are waiting for it to build up steam in the rankings I don't want to risk it hurting your main site's ranking. So you CAN'T have any visible NAP on site in plain text. All NAP need to be in an image with no alt text. So the site LOOKS awesome, you can't even tell - but all NAP is image based.

The new designer didn't do ANY SEO yet. Title tags still even just say HOME. So the site is totally bare of ANY SEO at all. No City + KW in title or H1 OR anything. NO local hooks, NONE of the factors you'd say would even be the very most basic requirements for a local site to rank - EXCEPT it's an EMD.

Ranks Page 1 organic inspite of all that. Just on the strength of the EMD I guess. I think the content could all be about dogs and he'd STILL rank for City + Dentist.

The site flies in the face of everything we know about local organic ranking or even just plain old SEO. So like the 3 NYC restaurants that rank on top for no apparent reason at the link in the top of this post, just makes me think maybe the algo is changing and Google is looking at some other ranking signals now. I mean in the case of the restaurants, they are NOT EMDs so something else is up there.

Crazy, huh? And some say EMDs don't work any more.