Top 8 Factors Why It's Hard to Game the New Google+ Local Rankings

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Optimized page + citations are very important to be ranked on Google Places, however, after today's switch to Google+ Local, other heavy-weight social factors are coming into play, making it even harder to game Google in those PACK-7.

If you were in the business of selling Google Places rankings, my suggestion would be to hire real users or even coordinate with the company to connect with their customers to apply these social factors.

Obviously, this will change your pricing, so this should give a lot to think about your business model.

These are the 8 Social Factors that are in Google+ Local ranking algorithm now:

1) Reviews
-They must come from local users in your city, most likely you need unique local IPs
-They must be posted by real google users and your google name will be displayed.

2) Reviews on Other Sites
This feature is officially back again. So your fans should not only leave a review on Google+, but also on other review sites such as yelp, citysearch.

3) Driving Directions Request
Google tracks how many people requested driving directions, both on their computer or mobile devices. These stats are available on the admin section of Google Places for business owners.

4) Custom Maps
Google tracks how many people include your business in their custom maps.

5) Google +1
How many times your business page is G+1'ed is much larger factor now in rankings.

6) Google+ Share
Just like G+1s, sharing with comment with your circles is integrated right in it. Google will likely to look how many times your business listing is being shared.

7) User Uploaded Photos/Videos
If more people are uploading random photos/videos of your business listing, these are giving serious indication of popularity for your business page. These are much more powerful than the photos you have uploaded and named with your keywords.

8) Checkins / Automatic Checkins
Checkins are finally here, especially well integrated with Google Latitude. Google even made it easier for people. If you are at that xyz place, your phone can check you in automatically with a notification. So needless to say, more checkins a place is getting, more popular that business is.
#factors #game #google #hard #local #maps #places #rankings #seo #top
  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    Solid info, thanks for sharing my friend.
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  • Profile picture of the author mrtrance
    So the days of just offering Google Places services to businesses who do not rank in the 7 pack is no longer viable strategy? I was planning on offering this service is an initial service to get my feet in the door and then upsell later. So after the change today is this still something to offer or not?
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    • Profile picture of the author sublime311
      Originally Posted by mrtrance View Post

      So the days of just offering Google Places services to businesses who do not rank in the 7 pack is no longer viable strategy? I was planning on offering this service is an initial service to get my feet in the door and then upsell later. So after the change today is this still something to offer or not?
      My recommendation is that PPC is something that you can for sure show results to them in terms of more customers. So I suggest that's a better idea to get your feet in the door and gain their trust. Or any setup service, such as setting up their FB page, their G+ Local page (not ranking), some website work, etc. are good ways to gain their trust and show them they can count on you.

      SEO+Google Local Rankings, especially after April 24 Penguin & May 30 Google+ Local launch, Google is cornering SEOs more and more. And if you are new in this game, there is a risk that you will not be able to show them results.
      So that's my recommendation.
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  • I'm just wondering where you were able to obtain this information and how you know it's all valid? Can you link to your "sources"?
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    • Profile picture of the author Chuck Avants
      Seems to me it would be difficult to rank sites this way. Even outstanding businesses might have trouble getting some of the requirements naturally.
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    • Profile picture of the author sublime311
      Originally Posted by Angela V. Edwards View Post

      I'm just wondering where you were able to obtain this information and how you know it's all valid? Can you link to your "sources"?
      As internet marketers, we are just making our best observation on what can be part of the ranking algorithm and experiment to prove it. Nobody really knows.

      But these factors are reported in the admin section of the Google Places in your stats, so if they are reporting, they are tracking and using for rankings most likely. Experimentation is needed to say these are the ranking factor facts for sure, upcoming months will show.
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      If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them... BRUCE LEE

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      • Here's the straight scoop from Vanessa. An important FAQ to read to get the facts.
        https://productforums.google.com/d/t...akA/discussion

        I blogged some Google+ Local tips, tricks and resources today.

        Tomorrow AM myself and other Google Top Contributors are having a hangout with Vanessa and a couple outher Googlers to dig into some of the finer points and more techy stuff so we can better help users in the Google for your Business forum. So may have more info to blog after I come out of our meeting, if there's anything new I can share publically.

        IMPORTANT RE RANKING - David Mihm's new Local Search Ranking Factors report (THE Local SEO Bible) should be coming out in a couple weeks. I'm one of the contributors and just finished my submission. When it comes out you'll see facts and opions from the very top local SEO pros from all over the world about which specific factors influence local. This one is MUCH more detailed than even last year's which was extremely complex. This year he DOES analyze a lot more social factors etc.so the results should be intereresting.
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        Linda Buquet :: Google+ Local Specialist and Google Top Contributor
        ADVANCED Google+ Local Training :: Also offering White Label Local SEO
        Latest Google Local News, Tips & Tricks

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        • Profile picture of the author PeckhamPirate
          I am seeing changes to my clients's ranking.
          I've been providing G+ services along with Places since the beginning of the year, and in every case, my clients' listings have risen after these latest changes.

          My biggest success has seen an seo company in the UK I just began working with jump from page 3 to page 1 (second place).

          All I did for this one client was add a Google+ business page.

          My conclusion. If you had a business page already and a well made Google Places listing, you've done really well out of this.

          Only time will tell...

          First impression, the new rich snippets suck. No stars on display in the SERPs
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  • Profile picture of the author .
    Originally Posted by sublime311 View Post


    1) Reviews
    -They must come from local users in your city, most likely you need unique local IPs
    Makes no sense.
    So I need to live in Fiji to review a hotel? :rolleyes:
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    • Profile picture of the author sublime311
      Originally Posted by rankinghero View Post

      Makes no sense.
      So I need to live in Fiji to review a hotel? :rolleyes:
      They probably have different algorithms for different industries - just like they use Zagat and different rating system for "restaurants". Google bought Zagat a few months ago just so they can use their world-class "review system" in Google Places. And today, they put it in use.

      For travel, I wouldn't be surprised if they integrate it with review sites such as "trip advisor" etc.

      Of course someone from Fiji can review a hotel, but that applies to the travel industry. And also there are different thresholds for different industries. But you can bet if there are 20 reviews and 20 of them are from Fiji for a hotel in Miami Beach, then that raises a flag. That case they look at IP address, Gmail account.

      Every user needs to have a google account to post a review, and what does a Google account need? A valid phone number for verification. Google started to push these "we require your phone" alerts when you login to your gmail about 6 months ago or so, with the warning that "make sure to provide your phone number in case your account gets hijacked!!, lol". Thanks Google you are so concerned about my account!

      Partially they want to use this phone information when you G+ a website or Google Places or when you review a business - it prevents their system to be gamed. They know where you are really from and everything you review!

      Today I went to Zipcar's Google+ Local page, and my Yelp review for them from a year ago was on the Google+ Local page with my name on it! I did not leave this review on Google Places. But it's on there. Actually it was on the example that Google showed me for the privacy statement how my Google name would look like on the public reviews. I was like wtf! I still don't know how this happened. Did Google buy Yelp, or how do they access Yelp's user data, in this case my name has been shared, and my Yelp account info was tied automatically to my G+ account! This is scary stuff guys!!

      If you are a dentist from Miami, and you get bunch of people with out of town area codes leaving reviews, obviously that's just going to raise a flag. It's much different case than a hotel or a cruise company. I actually tested this system, so I can say they already had pretty decent fake review detection system, they just didn't get posted.

      But we are talking about getting ranked. In order to beat your competition, there are social popularity factors are in effect now, it's not hard to see. Don't be naive that it's easy as having more reviews, having more citations, and having an optimized page, those just don't cut it in moderate to higher competitive markets.

      And with this integration, I can say that it's not the best industry to be in promising top Google+ Local ranking to small businesses.
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      If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them... BRUCE LEE

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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    Angela these are basic Google+ things so if you want to know more just explore Google+. Here is a video from Google


    Q
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  • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
    This isn't a ranking update, this is a cosmetic and feature based update. Nothing changes in how local results are ranked.
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    • Profile picture of the author sublime311
      Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      This isn't a ranking update, this is a cosmetic and feature based update. Nothing changes in how local results are ranked.
      "Nothing changes in how local results are ranked" is partially true. Some of these ranking factors I have listed here were in effect already and more has been added now. For example 'how many people looked up for driving directions' were a factor, but 'checkins' were not as it's a new feature. And many people overlooked these factors I have listed here because most popular Google maps courses teach are page optimization, reviews and citations. I am trying to raise awareness that it's just not that simple and there are other factors.
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      If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them... BRUCE LEE

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      • Profile picture of the author iAmNameLess
        Originally Posted by sublime311 View Post

        "Nothing changes in how local results are ranked" is partially true. Some of these ranking factors I have listed here were in effect already and more has been added now. For example 'how many people looked up for driving directions' were a factor, but 'checkins' were not as it's a new feature. And many people overlooked these factors I have listed here because most popular Google maps courses teach are page optimization, reviews and citations. I am trying to raise awareness that it's just not that simple and there are other factors.
        Those factors really have nothing to do with it though and really had nothing to do with it before. +1's never effected local and have a miniscule effect on organic. New features are exactly that, features, not signals in the ranking algorithm. It really still is based on those major things, and will continue to be like that until they change their ranking algorithm for local. Of course, that is just how it is right now... we'll see what happens though!
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    • Originally Posted by iAmNameLess View Post

      This isn't a ranking update, this is a cosmetic and feature based update. Nothing changes in how local results are ranked.
      EXACTLY! Ranking is still 70% blended algo - which is based on organic ranking factors and 30% old pack style algo - which is based mainly on NAP integrity, citations, reviews and Place page optimization.

      Nothing changed with ranking at all YET. I mean the algo is always in flux, but notthing changed specific to this update.
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      Linda Buquet :: Google+ Local Specialist and Google Top Contributor
      ADVANCED Google+ Local Training :: Also offering White Label Local SEO
      Latest Google Local News, Tips & Tricks

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  • I have some issues with this and although you posted a video, I don't think all of the things you say are the "factors" are actually going to come into play and here is why:

    Originally Posted by sublime311 View Post


    1) Reviews
    -They must come from local users in your city, most likely you need unique local IPs
    -They must be posted by real google users and your google name will be displayed..
    This throws out all vacationers and business people who might have patronized a business while in a city not their own. If Google was to do this, I guarantee that reviews across the board will drop off. I'm actually not sure that Google really knows our IPs all the time. I have several IPs as I have a home IP and a mobile, etc. Many folks have these things.

    3) Driving Directions Request
    Google tracks how many people requested driving directions, both on their computer or mobile devices. These stats are available on the admin section of Google Places for business owners.
    Many people either have a GPS unit in their car, or have one as an app on their phone so "Driving Directions Requests" will naturally be dropping off and probably have been for some time. This is no indication of how popular a place is, not to mention that if a business is in my own city (Google tracking my IP), why would I need driving directions to it????

    8) Checkins / Automatic Checkins
    Checkins are finally here, especially well integrated with Google Latitude. Google even made it easier for people. If you are at that xyz place, your phone can check you in automatically with a notification. So needless to say, more checkins a place is getting, more popular that business is.
    A LOT of folks have this feature turned off. Why? If their "check ins" can be seen publically in real time, then people will know they are not home. I live in a low-crime area but people HERE even warn NOT to do it. How many millions of people are NOT allowing "check ins" so that they don't come home to a burgled house or worse? I personally never "check in" unless I'm out but my husband (and dog) are home and then, I'm "checking in" so my husband can see what's going on and how long I'll be gone.

    Like it was pointed out, yes there have been some changes, but I don't think it's time to either panic OR to pass around "might be" ideas that we THINK Google COULD be thinking of.
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  • Profile picture of the author beeswarn
    Thanks Angela and IAmNameless. From the top this theory looked completely made up, but I didn't have enough facts to establish it.
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    • I just posted a video on my blog direct from the horse's mouth. Vanessa the Places community manager confirmed nothing changed with ranking in this update. I mean, like she explained the algo is always being tweaked but not specific to this update.

      I was in a big conference with upper management at Google today re all the changes and current issues. We are in a major transition right now and it may be a bumpy ride for a bit. But where they are heading with this will ultimately get rid of some old chronic Places problems and make quite a few things easier.

      I was a little anti the changes at 1st cuz DAMN I rank #1 for Google Places Optimization, it's all over my site, all my Advanced training materials are about Places Optimization, tools, EVERYTHING needs to change, so I was kinda ticked about the re-branding. But after my meeting with Google I'm pretty excited about what's coming!
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      Linda Buquet :: Google+ Local Specialist and Google Top Contributor
      ADVANCED Google+ Local Training :: Also offering White Label Local SEO
      Latest Google Local News, Tips & Tricks

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  • Profile picture of the author samlouiseroberts
    Great information! I must say, I'm getting kinda tired chasing with Google's abrupt algorithm changes. And now replacing Google Places with Google+ gives a lot of trouble for some business owners out there.
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  • Profile picture of the author sethczerepak
    I work with an authentic review company who does all this for a measly $99 a month. It's a must for anyone doing SEO these days and it's becoming more and more important. If any of your customers are service companies who can benefit from reviews, send me a PM and I'll make an introduction.
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