More on Local Ranking

Picture 15Brian Carter at SEO Scoop tries to figure out what factors influence local ranking. While he identifies a number of factors, his conclusion, based on testing, is that number of reviews had the single biggest influence.

Mike Blumenthal and David Mihm have also looked very extensively at these issues. If you saw the Brian Carter piece but are unfamiliar with the more extensive work of David and Mike, you need to take a look at those presentations.


10 Responses to “More on Local Ranking”

  1. David Mihm Says:

    Greg, thanks for the plug. I’ll be updating my survey in approximately 10 days (I’ve already received a few of the responses). Brian’s piece was interesting but as I commented to him, I think that sample size needed to be larger to draw significant conclusions from it.

  2. predictabuy Says:

    I’m convinced the PRIMARY purpose of Google’s current ranking algorithm is to encourage/force more local businesses to get online with a proper website. Businesses can’t afford to be invisible on Google Maps and in order to be visible they need to follow the basics of local SEO with a usable website (including claiming your listing of course, but also supporting and encouraging reviews).

    Only once those businesses are online with a properly SEO’d website, will they be able to take advantage of Google’s advertising products.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    Interesting theory. That would suggest a conspiracy of sorts.

    David: let me know when you publish.

  4. predictabuy Says:

    Greg – Not really a conspiracy — just the practical implication of the current algorithm. The algorithm is reasonable enough (though still pretty arbitrary from a user’s point of view I think). And I’m not suggesting this is an explicitly stated ‘policy’ at Google. But the net-net of the current approach is that it should provide great incentive for businesses to get online. Cheers, Eric

  5. Dave Hucker Says:

    chirping in…

    Not to G bash at all (as I use several Google apps every day) but the mobile “local search” seems to have some serious challenges with respect to accuracy, let alone anything resembling systematic ranking.

    A friend verbally referred an “advertising agency in willobrook il” to me. I’ve been using Google’s voice search on the G phone and did the search you see above. I got everything from hospitals to insurance agencies. Mobile has a long way to go apparently…as accuracy for mobile is extremely important. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of doing the same search over and over in order to ‘tweak’ the search.

  6. predictabuy Says:

    Local businesses should be beating down the doors of people like David Mihm, Brian Carter and Mike Blumenthal. I think that investing in their website and local SEO might be the single most important thing they can do right now. Certainly, this is the only way they are going to get visibility in Google Maps rankings.

    Here’s an interesting thought. Wouldn’t it be great to systematically compare the ROI from the following alternatives:
    – a well thought out local SEO program;
    – one of the many search marketing programs; and
    – various other traditional (and perhaps non-traditional) media.

    I’m betting that a good SEO program would win hands down — but have no facts to prove it. Does anyone have real numbers on this sort of comparison?

  7. Greg Sterling Says:


  8. Brian Carter Says:

    Thanks Greg. I agree with David that sample size needs to be larger. I was disappointed that even the strongest correlation (# reviews) was a weak one. I look at more data points today, and still, almost any single factor appears to have a weak correlation.

    However, I think this makes sense when an algorithm is a weighted multi-factor ranking… maybe it’s ok that they’re all weak alone- and it does help us prioritize what to work on first. Still, is there a white hat way to increase number of reviews? LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰ Maybe not. I’m going to keep looking at the data. Found a few interesting things about keyword in LBL name and category that I’ll publish soon.

  9. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Brian

  10. earlpearl Says:

    Having read Brian’s report, and made a couple of comments, and participated in both David’s and Mike’s studies…I believe the Google Maps ranking algo has to be a bit of a moving target.

    That is okay. Afterall google’s organic ranking is a moving target.

    Specifically with maps though, the significant reporting of hijacked rankings, and complaints about “spammers” taking over rankings in various business categories, let alone recent “mergings of business records”…all suggest that the algo’s for G Maps are still in their infancy…and will probably evolve and develop over time.

    Nice work, Brian. It is interesting that all of the relationships were of low value,….what could that mean?

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