Google preferring EMDs for location based service oriented keywords?


Elliot

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Hi everyone,

I've been getting ready to try lead promotion on behalf of a family members service company (tree removal services in this particular instance), but trying to compete on somewhat of a national scale - aka, I will be going after different city based keywords without having a physical presence in that city.

After doing a bit of research, I've noticed something very peculiar, and that is google seems to be favoring EMDs over the entire 7 or 3 pack in many instances, even if the site is very weak or poorly optimized. I noticed someone else talking about this problem in a comment on the latest Moz whiteboard friday, I'll quote his and my posts below.

http://moz.com/blog/subdomains-vs-s...ure-links-optimally-for-seo-whiteboard-friday
It seems most of the conversation about this WBFriday is about the Subdirectory/Subdomain issue.I find the micro-site issue still more compelling---and messier than it's presented (Rand, you're awesome).
I'm still finding, for location-based service keywords (such as "Dallas Plumbing", random example), an EMD with a few pages of fresh content will still outrank an authoritative site, with a subdirectory (and even more content, a google plus page, verified listing, etc., etc...)
DallasPlumbing[dot]com beats AuthortyPlumbingSite[dot]com/Dallas-Plumbing 90% of the time on Yahoo and Bing and still about 30% of the time on Google!
I've taken to building EMDs as a defensive measure to make sure nobody else does it and outranks us with little effort. It's a hassle because I'd rather focus exclusively on the authority site and not fuss with the little EMDs. Is anyone else experiencing this?
and my comment on his post:

I'm facing a similar problem as you, although I haven't experienced it directly, I've been gearing up to take on lead generation for local searches and have been trying to figure out exactly how to go about it. From what I can tell, these local low competition, low search keywords (200-500 searches) are loving EMDs with crappy content and terrible optimization, it seems like it's ranking based solely on the EMD and some the right keyword being in the title. It's even getting ranked above the 7 or 3 pack in about 50% of the cases I've noted.I'd love some advice or clarification on this.


Does anyone have any insight to why this is happening or the best way to take advantage of this particular SERP?
 

Linda Buquet

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Google has loved EMDs and PMDs in local for a long time.

Check a bunch of large metro competitive keywords and often the top 3 are all EMDs/PMDs.

Here a couple examples:
bellevue dentist 6 out of 7
bellevue chiropractor 5 out of 7
beaumont dentist top 3

Now there are lots of EMDs/PMDs that don't rank at all either. So EMD is not the magic bullet, but it helps. However you can still rank without an EMD. Just have to really know how to do LOCAL onsite SEO well. But I agree some that rank don't have much in the way of traditional SEO going for them. But I think Pigeon is looking at some new signals too.
 

Elliot

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Thanks for the response Linda, I was thinking along those lines as well.

I suppose my real question is, does this mean it's a good idea to consider individual unique sites for each location on their own domain and brand (e.g. Nashvilletreeservice.com) instead of trying to build an authority site to rank my different metro targets? (e.g. Treeservice.com/Nashville) - keep in mind if I went with the authority directory model, I'd be trying to rank different cities under one brand domain and subfolder(s).
 

Howell

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If you have a domain that has a good link footprint, meaning not a lot of links or crappy links, then my advice is to build up the domain and use sub-directories for the cities you want to rank for.

I?m doing this on a national level for every state in the US with URL structure www-dot-mywebsitename-dot-com/State-risperdal-lawyer and in my testing so far it?s doing very well?most pages are in the top 5.

Not to say this will work in local, but I?d bet that by having solid on-page SEO you could rank. Some of the SERPS I?m playing in are returning 200K-300K results ? so not super competitive, however I?m playing in a field of well established old domains.

I think the fact that I?m coming in new and fresh with solid content and on-page SEO plus a very clean link foot print helps.
 

JacobMaslow

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I did some work for Tabcom a while back. They owned dog.com, petsupplies.com and several other EMDs

We did 70 million in online sales. So EMD does give you a significant advantage.

You cannot buy 50 emds and rank for 50 long tail keywords anymore though. Google fixed their algorithm. So if you buy attorneyseo.com, dogcatcherseo.com and 20 others without developing links and content for each, it wont rank.

That being said, Google must give an advantage to EMD. If someone searches for "local Search Forum" and the moz forum shows up higher, they are going to be frustrated. Many people use Google instead of entering the URL into a browser.

I just did a search earlier today for the Motorola E and was glad that the motorola site came up on top.

Additionally, if you have an EMD, the anchor text links are optimized.
 

Elliot

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I did some work for Tabcom a while back. They owned dog.com, petsupplies.com and several other EMDs

We did 70 million in online sales. So EMD does give you a significant advantage.

You cannot buy 50 emds and rank for 50 long tail keywords anymore though. Google fixed their algorithm. So if you buy attorneyseo.com, dogcatcherseo.com and 20 others without developing links and content for each, it wont rank.

That being said, Google must give an advantage to EMD. If someone searches for "local Search Forum" and the moz forum shows up higher, they are going to be frustrated. Many people use Google instead of entering the URL into a browser.

I just did a search earlier today for the Motorola E and was glad that the motorola site came up on top.

Additionally, if you have an EMD, the anchor text links are optimized.
Great info. I guess my fear is that if I try the authority site, it will be much harder for Google to recognize my subfolders as individual "companies" and rank them. Is this warranted or is developing the domain authority worth it in the long run?
 

JacobMaslow

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Generally, you would want to develop one strong domain. You can put in great content and drive links to it. I work with clients that have multiple locations.

You can strengthen the sub folders with quality content.

Of course, I cannot speak to your particular situation.

There are some posts on the site about multi location - particularly multiple locations in one area.
 

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