“Putting” Google’s Citation Algo to the Test

MIHMORANDUM NO. 682 | September 27th, 2010Reader Comments (16)

It’s nearly unheard of that my two passions in life (golf and Local Search) intersect…but after Jim Furyk won $10 Million in the convoluted PGA Tour FedEx Cup yesterday (golf’s version of the Superbowl), that’s exactly what happened.

Furyk’s been a good, but not great, putter on Tour this year.  Despite being a Top-10 ranked player in the world the entire season, he only ranked 52nd in the putts-per-green category–and as any golfer will tell you, the name of the game is “Drive for Show, Putt for Dough.”  In Furyk’s case, that’s “Putt for a LOT of Dough.”

(Jim Furyk's mediocre putting statistics according to GolfChannel.com)

So a few weeks back, before the final round of the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, he visited a local golf discount store — Joe and Leigh’s Discount Golf in South Easton, Mass.  He found a $39 putter in the used bin (most Tour-level players use putters that range from $200 – $1000 each) and put it into play the next day.  Evidently he was “super nice” and earned at least three new fans in the shop, as the good folks at Joe and Leigh’s proudly display on their website. Furyk, evidently, found the Joe and Leigh’s staff to be “super nice” as well, as he gave them a plug in his post-round interview when asked about how the dinged up flatstick found its way into his bag.

Sadly, it does not appear that he has given them a review at Google Places (or anywhere else Google is spidering) yet.  Which is a shame because if a PGA Tour pro stops into a small business, let alone buys something, I’m not sure what better endorsement a business owner could receive.  Clearly this would be one “power review” that Google would want to reward!

But, Joe and Leigh got a pretty nice consolation prize.  Furyk’s mention of their business led to 2,753 Google News results for their name and location this morning.  Now, probably not every single one of those “related articles” mention them by name, but there are all kinds of authoritative places like Boston.com (probably the best citation a New England business could get!) and GolfChannel.com (ditto for a golf shop) that DO mention their business name and city explicitly.

Now, to be clear, these mentions may not show up as structured citations on Joe and Leigh’s Place Page, since only the business name and city are mentioned, without an address, phone number, or even a link.  But if Google’s Local sentiment analysis component is as smart as we all think it is, I would hope that Joe and Leigh start to rank in the 7-pack for the phrase “used golf clubs Boston” (they’re currently at #4 in Google Maps) pretty damn soon.

I’ll be tracking their rankings and citations casually over the next few months & we’ll see if this bit of fortune has the impact that it should.

Major kudos go to Joe and Leigh’s, not only for their great customer service but also for their ability to capitalize on Furyk’s visit — both on their website and on Twitter.  They’ve also taken the initiative to claim their Google and Yahoo listings (yay!) –with terrific custom categories — but it looks like they might still have some work left at the other search engines.

More information:

Joe and Leigh’s Discount Golf Pro Shop
68 Prospect Street
South Easton, MA
(508) 238-2320

16 Responses to ““Putting” Google’s Citation Algo to the Test”

  1. Mike Ramsey says at

    Great story and tweets on this David. I will really be interested to see what gets indexed as citations and what doesn’t. By all means, this company naturally should climb the rankings, but like a lot of true online PR, the links arn’t going to be the right keywords, the citations won’t have all the right information and we might see that a company who fits Google’s ranking algo idea “naturally” might not compete against a planned attack at building custom citations. At least they will get one good citation out of it…….the one from your site. ;)

  2. Mike Ramsey says at

    As a site note, Troy Merrit is from Burley, Idaho. We played a lot together when he was a little kid and could only hit the ball 200 of the tee. He could still beat me then. :(

  3. Will says at

    Please do keep us updated. I really enjoyed this entry since it had more of a personal touch.

  4. MiriamEllis says at

    What an exceptional case study, David. This will be fun to watch! A treat to see a post from you.

  5. Chris Pantages says at

    Good catch on finding the story. Will be interested if the power citations do pick up their 7-pack rankings.

  6. Mike Blumenthal says at

    David, when, in the scheme of things, was the #4 ranking Maps measured?

  7. David Mihm says at

    @Mike This morning around 7am PT…do you think they are ranking there SINCE / because of the story? That would be remarkable if the buzz factor in Maps worked literally within hours…

  8. Menachem Pritzker says at

    The 2nd listing (William Devine) isn’t even claimed!

  9. Mike Blumenthal says at

    No, I don’t think so. The Maps index is way to slow for that. I just wanted to understand the sequence better.

  10. Manuel Maniquis says at

    Good read. I’m testing a method now to rank a local site in both Google places and organic, and am not using any citation to build backlinks on. I started the experiment on Aug. 31, with the site ranking 15th in organic and page 10 in places for the keyword target. What I did was to build backlinks to the keyword target via the usual backlinking methods and build backlinks to its maps position instead of citations. It is now in the top 6 of organic and page 2 of places using the keyword target (Oct. 6) . I’m going to create another test to see if building links for citation would rank faster than building links for the map position. Thanks for a very informative blog.


  11. JT King says at

    Great article, but I noticed there’s only a 3 box from my search area in South Florida. What’s up with that? Joe and Leigh are sitting in the #4 position and aren’t on the first page…and no “more listing”?

    And Manuel? Keep us informed!

  12. andreas says at

    My english is not so good, but Reading Comprehension is acceptable.
    Compliments to the Working diligently from david and mike.

    to article, I watch your talk
    may be a good evidence for the theory of mike that the cards are not so relevant?
    all the best wishes and please make it up! It is incredibly helpful and informative!

    @ Manuel very, very charming way! go on and let us know your results!

    e salute

  13. Jackson Lo says at

    Great story David!

    I do notice that map listings do get updated quite frequently, from experiments I’ve test (making changes in the listing title, categories and such). It could well be that if those articles being pushed out include an anchor text that points to the map listing for a target term is helping move up the listing in ranks. Again, it’s going back to building backlinks for the map listing as Manuel mentioned.

    Any thoughts on that?


  14. earlpearl says at

    Great story. Still didn’t crack the top 3, but as Mike B referenced the Places Index works more slowly than does google.com

    I wonder what kind of great story you could come up with if your other passion, besides local seo, was galoshes?

  15. JeremyJackson says at

    They now rank B for “used golf clubs Boston” which is definitely an improvement on their aforementioned position. However, couldn’t this simply be because they have added “used golf clubs” as a category?

    Do you know if that was a category before hand or if it was changed afterwards?

  16. David Mihm says at

    Jeremy, my hunch is that the category hasn’t changed, but I’m irritated with myself that I didn’t take a screenshot of the Place Page itself, that’s for sure.

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