How the Google Local Algo Really Works - What Rules the Ranking Order

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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I'd like to see some of those listings Linda.

What we consider competitive markets might be different so I'd like to see exactly what you mean.
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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Shoot sorry I meant "I can show you some..." figuratively. I don't share my clients cuz then people can see my secret sauce tips and just try to reverse engineer what I do.

I had one consultant steal everything I do including use my client G+ descriptions word for word on every single one of his clients. So I don't share any more. Except in my training with clients that sign a non-disclosure. There I use a couple clients as case studies sort of, including the Dentist I got the double #1s for.

Sorry I know that does not help much but that's all I can say. Should not have said I can show you. My bad... In a rush to go help sick daughter and was not thinking straight.
 

katandmouse

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Aug 23, 2012
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I agree with Linda. The business had, as mentioned, naturally occurring citations, not many but some. I put no effort whatsoever into acquiring more.

I have also accomplished the same thing for 3 different personal injury attorneys. So does that answer your question about competition, Joshua? Attorneys are in a highly competitive field. These are in smaller towns than Atlanta, however. The other is in the construction field, not as competitive but he is going up against other contractors in an area with a population over 1,000,000.

It should be noted that one of my attorneys is ranking #1 for 6 different cities for multiple keywords and in the top half for many others. It's all done with on-page SEO and naturally occurring citations.

It should also be noted that getting citations is only time intensive. It is not hard and won't necessarily set you above your competitors. If every one of your competitors is doing citation building, you're going to have to do more. And when you start doing on-site SEO, you'll only rank as high as 1) your IQ (or the IQ of your SEO), 2) the quality of your SEO training, 3) your experience, and 4) what your budget allows - depending on what you're up against.

And then there's inbound link building...

---------- Post Merged at 06:53 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 06:40 PM ----------

I want to add that nothing upsets me more than to see local businesses (actually it's probably their SEOS) resort to keyword stuffing to rank high, like this:

"I'm a San Jose chiropractor providing chiropractic services for clients in San Jose. If you're in San Jose and need a chiropractor, then call our chiropractor office today for a chiropractic appointment. We are located in San Jose so your drive from your home in San Jose won't take long at all. We are a San Jose chiropractor and proud of it."

Makes me weep. Sadly, I'm still seeing this get by, but their day is coming.

When I teach, I tell my audience, you have 2 targets: #1 - your customer; #2 Google, but always put your customer first. Write first for them. Yes, add your keywords in so Google is not confused, but don't ruin your copy like the sample above. You don't need to do that! I get great results without resorting to that. I'm sure Linda does the same. So when we talk about on-page SEO, this is not what we are recommending! Our goal is to get the phone to ring. That kind of "optimization" isn't going to accomplish that.
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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Lawyers aren't competitive on the internet in smaller towns many times.

Until there is empirical proof to the contrary, I'm going to continue to go with what I've seen in the past through my own experience, which is citations to play a role in local SEO.

What we're arguing about really is the level of importance of citations. I hold that citations are about 1/4 of the algorithm, maybe less. They are definitely not as important as they use to be but if you are neglecting them, you're making a mistake. You are leaving an open hole for a competitor to come in, match your on-page SEO (which is easy to reverse), match or exceed reviews, and then beat you on citations, effectively outranking you.

There's no reason not to build citations. Build enough to get a strong foothold, then focus your efforts elsewhere.
 

katandmouse

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Aug 23, 2012
Messages
114
Totally agree Joshua. I don't think anyone is saying don't do citation building. We're only sharing what we have found Google to be favoring more. Do I recommend citation building? Absolutely because I want all my bases covered and I want my clients everywhere their customers are. I just happened to have worked myself out of that job for those clients because it wasn't necessary for ranking - at least at the time and still to date. (I'm working on getting them on board for citation building as we speak though.)

And you're right about being able to reverse engineer on-site SEO. That's why Linda won't freely give out examples as you requested. I would also venture a guess to say both of us learned some tricks of the trade by reverse engineering the work of others.

But even if someone were to reverse engineer and copy the on-site SEO I've done, I wouldn't worry that much about their citations. The whole point of this post was to point out what Linda discovered as the main ranking factor in Local SEO - and that is organic SEO. That being the case, I'd worry more about the links my competitor was getting than their citations. Wouldn't you?
 

JoshuaMackens

Local Search Expert
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Sep 12, 2012
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If you're asking if I had to concentrate on one part of the local SEO equation what would it be? It would definitely be organic SEO, as you alluded to. I agree on that.

However, you don't have to concentrate on just one part. If you don't build local citations then you're leaving ranking juice on the table. It is not the most important factor but it is a good chunk of the equation around 20-25%.

Sure, you may be able to get away without them. Until a competitor comes in who concentrates on the entire equation and then you get beat out and have to explain to your client why.

Your point is that organic SEO is a bigger factor than local citation building. That is well received over here and I am in agreement. My point is why JUST focus on Local SEO? Citation building is low hanging fruit and easy ranking juice.

Discount citation building at your own peril.
 

SEOonWheels

Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2013
Messages
1
Is the algo grouping business by location?
I just noticed this interesting sequence of results in the Map that goes like this:
Searched for "plastic surgeon Colombus" and results:

Page 1. Mostly city center, some along Northern Boundary of city center. https://maps.google.com/maps?ct=reset&tab=ll

Page 2. Concentration of results from City Center to a concentration in the Northwest Boundary. 2013-10-13_2025 - NicoleHess's library

Page 3. A few results again in the City Center to a concentration in the North.
2013-10-13_2027 - NicoleHess's library

Page 4. Again, a few in the City Center to now a concentration in the East.
2013-10-13_2028 - NicoleHess's library

What this looked like was a counter-clockwise rotation around the city.
I'm curious if anyone else is noticing this clustering based on city neighborhoods.
It appears to be helpful for the user to see a whole page of results around my neighborhood if I didn't originally type it in but could also disproportionately decrease the engagement a business on one side of a city could have just based upon Google's grouping.

Perhaps all the other local factors came into play first and this is just a coincidence, but that's why I'm posting - anyone else notice this? :confused:

Nicole
 

Vickyboli

Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2013
Messages
8
Hi,

After reading this post and an article from Adam Steele (http://www.leanmarketing.ca/stop-spraying-and-praying-understanding-local-results/) I did the exercise for a couple of keywords I want a client to rank for in order to understand if they're ranking based on organic or local factors.

After searching in Google, Google maps and AOL I found that this search is mostly based on local factors but my client does not appear on local results. I checked some of the competitors that appear in the first places of the 7 pack and found that most of them are not even verified, don't have much content and only have a couple of reviews. I have optimized the places account and create citations for this client whatsoever I don't get local results.

What do you think is the reason for this? Some on-site optimization would help me get better local rankings?
 

Linda Buquet

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Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,313
Hi Vicky,

It's super complicated and tricky to figure out just based on a limited description.

My 1st thought is that proximity OR Places ranking penalty or NAP issues could be a factor, but I'd totally be guessing without seeing the listing.

If you care to start a new thread in the help section, give us the exact KW and link to client we can check it out.
 

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