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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Google Maps and Library Listings -a replicated Bill Slawski experiment

I wanted to replicate Bill Slawski’s test of how well Goole Local handled libraries and see if our rural libraries faired any better in having the correct URL associated with their local listing. I was also curious if other information could be teased out of the results.

I searched on four rural libraries with & without State Location qualifiers:

Olean NY library & Olean Library

Salamanca NY Library & Salamanca Library

Cuba NY Library & Cuba Library

Wellsville NY Library & Wellsville Library

The results were, like Bill’s, all over the board from spot-on accurate listing of the website in the local listing to results that were incorrect to the point of indicating the website of a library on the other site of the state.

Here are some of my conclusions:

The searches by City + Library (no state locator) all returned the correct websites but no local results due to the location ambiguity (from google’s perspective). Wellsville, Olean & Cuba were the #1 listed sites with correct url’s while Salamanca (in competition with Salamanca Spain) was #3. Here Google just gets it right.

The success of the City + St + Library local results varied from spot-on to totally wacked out URL’s.

Olean NY library was accurate accross the board. There are three apparent reasons for this: 1)they have their pages accurately titled, 2)they have a relevant domain name and 3)they are listed in a free wireless hotspot directory that Google uses for authority.

Cuba NY Library retrieves a “onebox” result for the listing but associates no website with the listing. This seems to be because the website ( is part of the larger regional library system’s website, and they did not use the unambiguous place name in their page title. But if Google Organic can get it right, as Bill legitimately asks: Why can’t Google Local?

Salamanca NY Library As my son says: “Whoah dude”. How could they get it so wrong? The link is for the Utica library almost on the other side of the state .

Wellsville NY Library Google gets this one right even though the website title has no place name & there are no directories adding authority. This appears to be because the website has the address on every page of the website.

My conclusions:

First and foremost as Bill points out, control the listing in the Google Local Business Listing. This would remove any mistakes and immediately guarantee a correct listing.

But there are other things that libraries could do that are either free or very cheap:

1: Put your place name with the non-ambiguous (from google’s perspective) form in your page title
2: Put your address on every page of your site (Wellsville Library)
3: List with free directories like JiWire.cif if you have free wireless access (Olean Library)
4: Get yourself a good review with like the San Francisco Library in Bill’s example. I sure would recommend our public library.

It is amazing that Google could get it so right in their organic listings and could be so erratic in their local lisitngs. It makes me wonder though, why Google gives me the correct URL on an ambigous search (cuba library) but can’t give the correct url in Local for an umambiguous search….you would think that the same logic used in Organic could help the Local get it right.

It appears that the problem is not related to how rural a site is but how well developed their website is and/or how well referenced the organization is across the web.

A library apparently needs to do any one of the above and it would suffice to give Google Local enough information to properly identify the library’s correct website.