Correlation Study of Factors affecting Google+ Local Rank

Dave Cosper

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2012
Messages
34
This is an interesting SEO study published today. I've only copy+pasted the first half of it here. Have at it folks ...

Correlation Study of Factors affecting Google+ Local Rank

February 8, 2013 by Alex Garrido

Abstract

When Google migrated Google Places to Google Plus Local, several business took advantage of this business opportunity and integrated their websites with the new social platform. It is been suggested in the Search Engine Optimization community than Google assigns different values of relevancy to Google Plus Pages than those used to rank organic search results. While many SEO researches have gathered a lot of data about what Google might be using to rank organic listings, Google Places (Google Plus Local) information has been lacking the same amount of scrutiny. This article analyzes 100 Google + Local listings and compares several factors to help draw correlation conclusions about what might affect Google rankings. Jump to the perfect website for Google Plus Local listings.

History

A massive effort to help SEO consultants understand what is relevant information for high Google Plus Local listings was made by David Mihm who surveyed dozens of SEO experts for their opinion about what might affect Googles rankings (Article about G+ Local Ranking factors). The article was published in mid 2012 when Google Plus Local was barely getting started. I took some of the rankings factors mentioned in the research and expanded a few of the ones that I thought will be relevant for 2013.

Method:

Three computers with no search history, cookies, proxies, cache or stored internet files were used to gather the results. The results were compared for accuracy in three browsers: Mozilla, Chrome and Internet Explorer. All results were geo targeted and allowed for Google to use HTML5 to gather geolocation information. Keywords used for this particular study were in the niches of “internet marketing”, “plastic surgery”, “mental health”, and “website design”. All search queries included “keyword” + “location”. Only the top 5 results appearing in Googles organic search listings under the Google Places section were used. This research compares 100 websites and 20 search queries. Because not everybody has claimed or migrated to Google Plus Local, Google Places might be used interchangeably in this article.

Design:

Eighteen different independent variables were used to create a correlation matrix in which high rankings (100 for the first position, 90 for the second, 80 for the third, etc) were defined as the dependable variable.

  • Indexed Pages: Number of indexed pages as reported by Google
  • Bing Backlinks: Number of links reported by Bing. [inbody:website.com -site:website.com]
  • Page Authority: As reported in SEOmoz Page Authority
  • Domain Authority: As reported in SEOmoz Domain Authority
  • Backlinks: as reported in Majestic SEO
  • Keyword in Tittle: Having the keyword exactly as the query in the tittle tag of the Google Page
  • Pagerank: Page rank of the linked domain (official website of the business)
  • Alexa: Rank for the main website
  • Responsive: Mobile friendly CSS OR mobile redirect using Iphone User Agent and screen width of 300 px
  • First Archived year: As reported in Archive.org
  • Loading speed: time it took for the website to load
  • Facebook: Facebook likes
  • Tweets: Tweets and or retweets
  • Plus: Plus ones on the Google Listing site
  • Plus Rank: Page rank of the Google Plus Local page
  • Exact Category: Having the exact search query in the category section
  • Description: Having the keyword in the description exactly as the search query
  • Num Reviews: Number of approved Google reviews in the Google Places page.

Results here: Factors affecting Google Plus Local Listings in Search Results
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,437
Wow, great catch Dave. Thanks so much for posting. I had not seen that one yet.

Only have time to do a quickie scan but 2 things jumped out at me...

The ideal website for a high Google Places/+Local ranking will have the following features based on this correlation study:

Have a claimed Google + Page with the keyword in the tittle


Hope he's not suggesting KW stuffing which can get you suspended. Assume he's saying if the REAL company name includes KW it helps.

Have a broad category inside Google Plus Local, not so much a laser target keyword.

That sort of flies in the face of what I've seen, so I'm curious and will try to dig into that point some day when I get time.

What do you guys think???
 

Dave Cosper

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2012
Messages
34
The ideal website for a high Google Places/+Local ranking will have the following features based on this correlation study:

Have a claimed Google + Page with the keyword in the tittle


Hope he's not suggesting KW stuffing which can get you suspended. Assume he's saying if the REAL company name includes KW it helps.

Have a broad category inside Google Plus Local, not so much a laser target keyword.

That sort of flies in the face of what I've seen, so I'm curious and will try to dig into that point some day when I get time.
I thought that was interesting too. I would be curious to see the same methodology used for a different set of keywords. Of the four used, not sure if "internet marketing" and "website design" were particularly reliable for a local search study.

Here is Alex's conclusion drawn from the 'keyword in page title' results:

It came as a surprise to me to find out that perhaps one of the strongest ranking signals was just having the keyword in the Plus page tittle, it almost felt unfair because there are local businesses that use their brand names than they had from decades ago and sometimes a new business with SEO in mind would legally register with the department of State ?Blue Keyword Keyword City? and get higher results. Something that I found shocking was the fact that Google dislikes having the exact keyword in the ?category section?, having a broader category is much more preferred. For example if the target keyword is ?plastic surgery in city?, instead of having ?plastic surgeon? in the category, a better practice would be ?medical clinic?.
---------- Post Merged at 01:53 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 01:46 PM ----------

My other takeaway was that results related to social signals not being a factor was also not reliable in the sense that the business types chosen were not ideal for this: ?internet marketing?, ?plastic surgery?, ?mental health?, and ?website design?. JMO.

Something that came to me as a surprise is the fact than most local website rank very high without social signals. As a matter of fact, having social signals correlates negatively with high rankings inside Google Plus Local. Perhaps it is a design error or perhaps the pages than got social signals had ?fake ones?, I do not now. But at this point, I would recommend only social signals from authorities in your niche, not just any customer with a recently created social profile.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,437
Of the four used, not sure if "internet marketing" and "website design" were particularly reliable for a local search study.
LOL Told you I skimmed! Totally missed the keywords used. Ya those don't normally even PULL local, so I agree, not the best choice.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,533
Thanks for the great find, Dave.

My kneejerk reaction is that the study is wayyyy off, but I look forward to going through it.
 

Mike Wilton

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2012
Messages
53
In the end I think the point about category selection is going to be obsolete. With the recent changes to Google+ Local Google is giving us categories to choose from and has eliminated the ability to customize them.

That said, I find it incredibly bizarre that he says a plastic surgeon should not choose "plastic surgeon", but instead choose "medical clinic" as a more successful category.

"For example if the target keyword is ?plastic surgery in city?, instead of having ?plastic surgeon? in the category, a better practice would be ?medical clinic?."
Both currently and in the past, "Plastic Surgeon" is a provided category by Google, as is "Surgeon", so why you would ignore a recognized and provided category in that market for something so generic as "Medical Clinic" sounds like a great way to give the competition the upper hand.
 

Dave Cosper

Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2012
Messages
34
The author of this study just added the following to help better explain his rationale for the particular categories used.


"Justification of methodology: the reason why this article focuses in the four mentioned markets is because there markets have history of high competitiveness overall. It would be interesting to see what other SEO researchers find on regards of other niches and markets. I suspect that the algorithm adapts intelligently to specific, exclusive, categories."
"Evolving research: Other niches/markets should be taken into consideration outside to four mentioned here. This study is meant to be just an introduction to further research, a bigger sample size is required to increase the accuracy of the correlation factor. The next step is an actual SEO experiment in which factors are isolated to help draw more accurate conclusions about local SEO rankings. Please feel free to ask questions or join our SEO community to stay informed about the results future experiments."
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
14,437
That said, I find it incredibly bizarre that he says a plastic surgeon should not choose "plastic surgeon", but instead choose "medical clinic" as a more successful category.

Both currently and in the past, "Plastic Surgeon" is a provided category by Google, as is "Surgeon", so why you would ignore a recognized and provided category in that market for something so generic as "Medical Clinic" sounds like a great way to give the competition the upper hand.
Agree Mike but not only that, I'd never put Medical Clinic or Dental clinic for a cosmetic surgeon OR cosmetic dentist. It give the wrong impression and attracts more of a low end HMO type of patient. That's my opinion anyway.

(I've had Google change my Dentist cats to Dental Clinic and I would fight tooth and nail to change it because it conjures up the image of the funky low end assembly line dental clinic on the bad side of town that's in the same strip mall as Circle K.)
 
Joined
Sep 5, 2012
Messages
329
Agree Mike but not only that, I'd never put Medical Clinic or Dental clinic for a cosmetic surgeon OR cosmetic dentist. It give the wrong impression and attracts more of a low end HMO type of patient. That's my opinion anyway.

(I've had Google change my Dentist cats to Dental Clinic and I would fight tooth and nail to change it because it conjures up the image of the funky low end assembly line dental clinic on the bad side of town that's in the same strip mall as Circle K.)
Google, especially in MapMaker requires a specific category that describes the whole business the best with the other categories covering areas not covered by the Primary category. Changing 'plastic surgeon' to 'medicial clinic' for a plastic surgeon would be improper. Categories are supposes to best describe a business at a glance and group them together, not as some ad hoc ranking tool.
 

Flash

1
Joined
Jul 20, 2012
Messages
185
And that appears to be yet another way in which Places was not following the rules of Maps, but they are now being made to conform. The G+ Business pages (Social pages) do not allow custom categories.

I'll agree that the categories need to be expanded in some ways, but Andrew is correct, they are not meant for keyword stuffing. Places allowed it to happen, but appears to be being forced to revere that path. Perhaps with the greater emphasis on organic factors will mean the keywords can come from there instead.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,533
Google, especially in MapMaker requires a specific category that describes the whole business the best with the other categories covering areas not covered by the Primary category. Changing 'plastic surgeon' to 'medicial clinic' for a plastic surgeon would be improper. Categories are supposes to best describe a business at a glance and group them together, not as some ad hoc ranking tool.
Right on. If the author were sticking to his "correlation does not equal causation" disclaimer, I'd say fine, maybe more high-ranking listings do have really broad categories instead of more-accurate ones. But it's misleading to go beyond that and dish out advice based solely on those correlations - especially when that advice doesn't square with experience, common sense, or Google's rules.
 

Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest
Subscribe/Unsubscribe

Trending: Most Viewed

Promoted Posts

New advertising option: a promoted post by a Sterling Sky employee reviewing your product or service; this will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More information...

Local Search Forum


Google Product Exert

@LocalSearchLink

Join Our Facebook Group

Top