I am often surprised when I talk to industry practitioners and engage in conversations on optimization schemas and the techniques they use to improve Google local listings and Place Pages, how very basic and similar the responses are. They all pretty much parrot out:
- Claim listing,
- Fill in all possible content,
- Measure improvement,
- Repeat step number two.
Local Search knowledge has in effect become “folklore”; information handed down from industry practitioner, to practitioner (blogs, trade shows, webinars, etc). Often without anyone questioning the material or techinque.
As a result, primary or source derived knowledge is severely lacking. That leads me to today’s discussion, the use of designed experiments. While webmaster guides and question boards are helpful for generic issues, there is nothing like a designed experiment to prove or disprove a hypothesis that leads to improved understanding and new techniques.
Designed Experiments can be elaborate or simple. Below is one I am currently conducting to improve our knowledge on Apple’s iPhone 4S local search results algorithm (note client name removed):
Designed Experiment – Apple iPhone 4s – Siri optimization
Project Started: 1/3/2012 by Gregg Stewart
Searches for “CLIENT CATEGORY KEYWORD Troy, MI” on Google Maps return CLIENT in the 3rd, 5th and 7th positions on page one. However, the same voice search on Apple iPhone 4S via Siri (voice search) yields a business listings set of “CLIENT CATEGORY” (25 listings) that does not include CLIENT. The root cause is the fact that even though voice query search results are often displayed in Google Maps on the Apple iPhone 4S, Apple is utilizing a different listings database than Google complete with a proprietary algorithm to deliver search results on the device.
Based on observations of additional 15miles client programs and research information developed for the below article; we are hypothesizing that Yelp reviews are a primary optimization key for Siri with the root data source being Localeze (Which 15miles feeds to for the Business Listing Management Program).
On 1/4/2012 we inserted a review for the HQ listing as a means to observe, and prove/disprove 2 elements:
- Yelp reviews are a primary optimization key for listings in Siri
- Determine the listings update timing cycle of Yelp reviews into Siri
Each morning at 8:00 AM EST we conduct 2 voice queries “CLIENT NAME Troy , MI” and “CLIENT CATEGORY KEYWORD Troy, MI”. To date (1/20/2012) the Yelp review has not yet populated into Siri. This observation may indicate a monthly update of review material from Yelp to Apple and proves that they do not have an active API with more timely updates. Once we observe the review on Siri our Hypotesis is that CLIENT will appear in the “CLIENT CATEGORY KEYWORD” query.
It should be noted, if our hypothesis proves out, we will develop a strategy for increasing review activity on Yelp and additional sources that represent a citation advantage for Local Listing optimization.
Additional Background – http://www.clickz.com/clickz/column/2118083/apples-siri-change-voice-local-search
This is one of over a dozen designed experiments we are currently tracking to ever improve primary knowledge on Local, Mobile & Social Search. Many of these are to prove or disprove Local Myths we have read about or experienced in the marketplace. Get started with your own set of experiments to help improve your skills.