In Part 1 of this series I reviewed which directories Google is using in creating their Local Listing for Restaurants. In Part 2 I looked at their sources for reviews and ratings and its impact on ranking. In this third installment I will review the aggregate results of all data Google uses in providing information for the Local Listing in the restaurant industry and some of the implications for optimization.
Google Map’s ranking algorithm is complicated. This summary reviews Map’s sources and from that one can glean some ideas about what influences ranking. Clearly though the underlying rules rely on different weighting and factors that have yet to be determined (although we can make some good guesses).
In fact it is clear that Google Maps and the Google Organic Local Onebox results weight the same local listings differently. My simplified analysis does not (and can not) establish definitively what these relative weights are. It can however point us to the data sources that Google is using and perhaps allow us to develop models for improving rankings.
Here is a summary all the details that Google Maps captured for the search Restaurant Buffalo, NY on each listing that I analyzed:
|Restaurant Ranking||Details (# of Directories)||Referring Web Pages||Number of Reviews||Stars Rating||Business Type|
There is a lot of information in this chart so here are some different ways to look at the info….
Here is are several chart views of this data:
So what conclusions can one draw?
- It appears that the number of local directories in which you are listed does not confer significant ranking value beyond that critical first entry via a directory or directly via the Local Business Center (although there is probably some).
- There is a correlation between local web references, reviews and stars and ranking in Google Maps. Local web references and the total number of reviews seem to have the most impact on your Maps ranking. It is odd to me that total reviews seem to affect ranking more so than the actual star ratings. This could be an aberration of the small sample size or my statistical methodology (or lack there of) but it should be looked at further. One would think that Google Maps would reward the highest rated (on a star basis) with higher rankings. In fact this is what the Google Organic Local Onebox results seem to do…see below
-My guess here is that local web references are very important (given Google’s history). Although it is important to note that these web references typically need to have address information in them for Google to use them in this context.
-It raises the question if there is a Google Maps equivalent of Page Rank that applies to Web References and/or Review sites?
-Google Organic Local Onebox Results on the front page and Google Maps use different ranking algorithms. Note the following:
|Google Organic Top 3 Local Results||Google Maps Results|
|1)Anchor Bar -||A.Hyatt Hotels & Resorts: Hyatt Regency Buffalo|
|2)Kuni’s Sushi Bar||B.Adam’s Mark Hotels & Resorts|
|3)Hyatt Hotels & Resorts: Hyatt Regency Buffalo||C.Buffalo Marriott Niagara|
|I. Kuni’s Sushi Bar|
-In this case I agree with Bill Slawski, how could Google Maps get the top listings so wrong? Maps list 3 Hotels as 1,2 & 3 while the Google Organic local Onebox list has two of Buffalo’s better known restaurants in the 1,2 position and the Hyatt as 3 (which does have a well known restaurant on its premises). The Anchor Bar is, after all, where Buffalo Wings were first created and is a Buffalo landmark (not that I would recommend it for any one trying to eat a little healthier).
-It appears that Google Organic Local Onebox Listing ranked the only two restaurants with 5 star ratings as 1 and 2 and then took the top Google Map listing for number 3. If this is the case then those rating stars take on increased importance…Given a choice of high ranking on Google Organic local Onebox or Google Maps, I would rather be number 1 in the Onbebox on the Google Organic search results page any day.
-A minor note that is on advanced browsers, the distance measurement has been removed from the Map listing. You no longer can tell how far the restaurant you are looking at is from some arbitrary and indeterminate center point..good riddance.