No. 64
December 13th, 2007

The Most Brilliant Google Local Post I’ve Ever Read

The honor goes to this post by Tim Coleman of Convert Offline, a Boutique SEM for Local Service Businesses.

Tim lays out a VERY convincing argument for why certain businesses (and certain businesses’ reviews) show up at the top of the Google Local algorithm, and why others don’t. It’s the most salient, actionable piece of advice I’ve ever read for small businesses looking to get a leg up on the competition in the new Map + 3 interface that’s become ubiquitous in Universal Search.

In a nutshell, Tim suggests that Google’s algorithm takes into account not only the star-rating for the business given by the reviewer, but also the number of ratings that the reviewer has given to other businesses. In other words, the opinion of a person who’s only ever reviewed ONE business is weighted far LESS than the opinion of someone who’s reviewed tens or even hundreds of businesses.

It’s a brilliant hypothesis backed up by some empirical evidence, whereby a business with only 4-5 reviews from quality reviewers is ranked highly, and with a star rating, while another business with 30-40 reviews isn’t listed or starred.

In other words, if you own a small business, and you want to rank highly in the Google Local algorithm, seek out reviewers on Yelp, InsiderPages, etc., that have reviewed a ton of businesses, and “ask them nicely” if they wouldn’t mind reviewing yours! I’m by no means recommending that you pay them off directly, but if there’s some way to entice them with a special offer to come into your business, or something you can do for them in return, I’d seriously investigate it.

His post also looks at the implications this algorithmic strategy might have on review spam. I commented that

Unlike with paid links, though, the difference is that the individual reviewers probably couldn’t care less if they lost the ability to pass “ReviewRank,” meaning it is a MUCH more difficult situation for the Google Local algorithm to deal with.

At any rate, I HIGHLY recommend that anyone in the Local SEO space heads over to read his post.