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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

“The most relevant results” sort of…

One of the interesting results that I covered in previous posts ( here and here ) was the occasional and glaring difference (using the same data set) of the results in the Google Onebox Local Listing and the Maps top results.

In a recent NY Times article (reg. req’d) and often in the past a Google spokesman has said “We will continue to innovate our search technology to provide users with the fastest and most relevant search experience on the Web.” Which is the most authoritative? Which is the most relevant?

It is hard to have two “most relevant” results to the same query (Restaurant Buffalo, NY) from the same search engine. It certainly leaves one wondering why Google can’t really decide.

Google Organic Onebox 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
D.Anchor Bar
I. Kuni’s Sushi Bar

From a technical point of view, in this particular search, it appears that Google Organic weights star rating more highly than Google Maps. If one were to give Google the benefit of the doubt, one could argue that the purpose of the two searches was different…

In that vein, perhaps Google Maps is looking for a proximal answer based on your location and that Google Organic was looking for the authoritative answer regardless of location. That however assumes that Google Maps is still heavily weighting distance. (I will explore this but it is getting harder in that in Maps modern browsers now show the “click to call” button rather than the distance value).

If one assumes that in the future Google Maps results will be presented primarily on mobile devices that are location aware then this makes all kinds of sense.

In the meantime I am not so sure. It looks more like a spat between different departments

Note: It does appear (after digging out IE 5 on my old Mac) that there is no correlation between distance and ranking)