Red Cardinal » Geotargeting Search Engine Optimisation Ireland Sun, 29 Mar 2015 16:23:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Matt Cutts Video on Dupe Content and International Sites Tue, 29 Sep 2009 08:29:28 +0000 Nice short video from Matt on how to publish same language content for multiple countries AND avoid dupe content filters.

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I’m very interested in how Google handles dupe content, especially for English-variant sites (e.g. US Vs. UK Vs. IE etc.). This new video has some decent, if not ground-breaking, tips for international site owners:

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]]> 0 Launches 2 Years Later, And Still Not Irish Fri, 25 Sep 2009 09:22:41 +0000 Interesting to see that Yahoo! finally built a dedicated Irish hompeage on Interesting that is until you go 1 click further and not everything is at it should be...

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When I look back and see that almost 2 years have passed since writing about Yahoo!’s Irish Search Results I have to wonder where does the time go? A couple of days ago a Yahoo! employee called Dave left a comment on that post mentioning that is now alive and kicking:

Yahoo! Ireland homepage -
Yahoo!’s new Irish homepage

But maybe they haven’t committed 100% yet to their Irish presence:

Yahoo! Ireland Property Section
Yahoo! Ireland Property Section

Lots of Irish finance news (not):

Yahoo! Ireland finance section
Yahoo! Ireland finance section

But surely they’ll serve up Irish personals (dating)…

Yahoo! Ireland Personals (Dating)
Yahoo! Ireland Personals (Dating)

Try entering Dublin as your city and see what they return…. *sigh*

So basically Yahoo! has given us a new Irish homepage to their UK portal. Maybe in another 2 years they may actually include some Irish content… Not holding breath :(

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]]> 3’s Language/Country Handling Bug Explained Mon, 24 Aug 2009 07:45:12 +0000 While messing around with bing I found some odd handling of country/language settings. Doing some more digging over weekend, and it does indeed appear to be a bug that affects Chrome users. When you select a country, and then visit an alternative bing country site bing gets confused when displaying results. In the following example […]

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While messing around with bing I found some odd handling of country/language settings. Doing some more digging over weekend, and it does indeed appear to be a bug that affects Chrome users. When you select a country, and then visit an alternative bing country site bing gets confused when displaying results. In the following example I selected Netherlands and then visited Here’s how to replicate:

  1. Using Chrome head to and then select country prefs (click on “Ireland”):
    Go to (it redirects)
    Go to (it redirects)
  2. Now select “Netherlands”:
    Click Netherlands to set your prefs to Holland
    Click Netherlands to set your prefs to Holland
  3. Now go back to via the address bar – your interface should now be localised to Dutch: homepage shows Irish filters localised to Dutch (as expected) homepage shows Irish filters localised to Dutch (as expected)
  4. Now try any search, and then check out the results page:
    Check out the filters - they're all for Holland
    Check out the filters – they’re all for Holland, and the results appear to be Dutch

It appears that bing’s cookie handling is a bit wonky with Chrome. When I try the above with other languages the same behaviour is replicated. Trying this in FIrefox produces the desired/expected behaviour – you can view Irish SERP in Dutch-localised interface, unlike above.

Weird bug that probably isn’t affecting too many users, and hopefully the Bing guys will fix this.

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Google Opens More ccTLDs to GWT Geotargeting Tool Wed, 19 Aug 2009 10:32:46 +0000 It appears that Google is slowly relaxing the rules around geotargeting of ccTLDs. Personally I don't think this will help, but for webmasters stuck on vanity ccTLD it's probably a God-send.

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I’ve written on multiple occasions about Google’s GWT Getargeting tool (see all geotargeting posts here), and webmasters have long griped about the inability to use the tool with ccTLD (country level domains such as, .ie etc). Well it seems that Google are slowly adding more ccTLDs to the list of domains that can be geotargeted via Google Webmaster Tools.

Not sure of all the ccTLDs added yet, but it does appear that .me was added recently, adding to .tv and a handful of other “vanity” ccTLDs that webmasters can now geotarget away from their origin country.

.ie is still hardwired to Ireland though. More info hopefully direct from the horse’s mouth.

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Is Google Introducing Major Changes To Organic Geotargeting? Mon, 03 Aug 2009 07:30:47 +0000 Organic geotargeting affects every site owner. How search engines, and Google in particular, handle geotargeting is one of the most important factors to be considered in SEO. And in this post I'm outlining some tests I observed that suggest big changes to geotargeting may be on their way. This will affect your website, so please keep reading.

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Not many people seem to have noticed, but Google Webmaster Tools Geotargeting appeared to be broken for a number of weeks. I say ‘appeared’ as I’m starting to think this may in fact have been a test. For readers who aren’t familiar with the Geotargeting Tool I’ll start with some background. (Warning: this is a long post, but hopefully quite useful for both international and national SEOs.)

Back To 2007 – Helping Global Websites Workaround ccTLD

Well that subheading explains why Google introduced GWT Geotargeting. Major global websites often encountered major difficulties running sites on multiple ccTLDs, and global brands therefore had great difficulty taking advantage of Google’s geotargeted search results. In late 2007 Google introduced a new tool that allows owners of gTLD (.com, .net, .org etc.) to geotarget different subdomains or subfolders of their sites to specific countries. This tool effectively allowed global sites to appear ‘local’ in Google country-level SERPs. I first wrote about the Geotargeting tool back in January 2008.

GWT Geotargeting Tool
GWT Geotargeting Tool back in 2008

Forward To July 2009 – Where Did Goetargeted Sites Disappear To?

The Geotargeting tool within GWT stopped working sometime around the end of June. Or to be more exact, the effects of the tool were no longer visible, and sites using the tool no longer appeared in ‘Pages from’ searches in Google’s ccTLD properties (, etc.).

As of the past few days geotargeted sites are once again ranking as they did previously, and it appears the tool is once again working as advertised. I initially believed GWT Geotargeting was broken, but now I’m more convinced that this was in fact a test. Why do I think this was a test? Well I’ll let you know shortly, so please stay with me as I work through some more background details.

The ‘Pages from’ Interface Test

In late June reports of Google testing the ‘pages from’ control on their search front-end started doing the rounds in the UK and SA and NZ. I also wrote about Google testing ‘pages from Ireland’, and managed to see that particular test myself on 3 different computers (different accounts).

Google tests Pages from Ireland control
Google tests 'Pages from Ireland' control on

Google confirmed that this was indeed a user-acceptance test for the removal of the ‘Pages from’ control option (see Jem’s response in this thread). But was Google running other associated tests?

The Google Black Box

Google is obsessively secretive. Many would say excessively secret. When I first noticed country-restricted results no longer included GWT geotargeted sites I shot an email to Google. I received a fairly normal response – “Thanks. We’ll look into it”. As a contributor over on Google Webmaster Support Group I often ping issues I notice (very often these turn out to be non-issues – Google ‘features’, not Google ‘bugs’). Not unusually perhaps, none of the subsequent responses I received referenced the “bug” as a known issue. During this period the web also seemed bereft of discussion about the geotargeting tool not working (there were a few isolated threads on Google’s Support Group). Hush online, and silence from Google.

Google rarely makes public details of snafus with its index. But they have, on occasion, come out publicly and said “this is an issue, and we’re working on it”. They didn’t in this particular case, even privately. Up until recently I still considered the geotargeting issue to be a bug, but some more pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place that made me consider the possibility this was actually a test. One particular response from Google I sawe struck me as odd.

“From Time To Time Our Algorithms Change”

Some other inquiries about this were made. The canned response received merely stated that the affected site in question was correctly set up in the GWT Geotargeting Tool, and that “Google’s algorithm may change from time to time”. Something in this message didn’t quite add up. What I read (and I paraphrase here) was ‘you’re doing everything right – don’t change anything’, and ‘we [Google] may change how this works from time to time’. That response came from a less-direct support-type channel at Google, and again no mention was made that this might be a known issue. Being perfectly honest, the idea of a test hadn’t even entered my mind at this stage. Before I tell you what the final piece in the puzzle is I’m going to speculate on the possible tests Google might want to run, and why.

Removing Geotargeting Tools – Who Would You Test?

We know at least one test occurred – the removal of the country-restrict control – and we must assume Google is considering taking this out of their search interface. In order to conduct proper user-acceptance testing you need to test a sample of constituent groups affected by the change. So who would be affected by the removal of ‘Pages from’? Google’s search users obviously – and they were indeed tested. But who else might be indirectly impacted by removing ‘Pages from’ option?

There’s actually only one other major group apart from searchers – users of the GWT Geotargeting Tool. And with this group there’s a catch – you cant easily run acceptance tests on them.

Did Google Test GWT Geotargeting Tool Removal?

The first thing I should state is that this is merely speculation on my part. I’ll state the “facts” as I saw them and let others draw their own conclusions.

  • Around June 27: Google stopped including global websites geotargeted web content in ‘Pages from’ searches. It took a few days before everything fell out of the indices, but this may be normal across DC infrastructure. The change removed everything – even brand names no longer showed up. I started watching a number of very large global sites I knew used the Geotargeting feature. All were gone from searches using ‘Pages from’. I figured this was a bug.
  • Late June: First mentions about testing ‘pages from’ control.
  • First weeks of July: I made a number of inquiries about GWT Geotargeting Tool which led me nowhere, and I also saw the canned response about Google algo updates mentioned above.
  • End July: Geotargeted sites reappear in country-restricted searches on Google ccTLD properties.

Let’s return to the speculation again. Google wants to test the removal of the Geotargeting Tool in GWT. They can either test removing the tool from the GWT interface (and this may also have occurred) or they can test of the main outcomes of such a change – remove the results from country-restricted SERPs. Let’s take each of those in turn.

Possible Test 1: Test Removing Geotargeting From GWT

I have a sneaky suspicion there are some serious problems with acceptance-testing the removal of Geotargeting Tool within GWT. I assume most users of this tool rarely check it once they save their settings, so the only test responses you’d likely get are from new users. That’s not ideal given that many large enterprises have already implemented the tool, and therefore a test would likely miss their response. That said Google may have tested this, and it may also be a valid test.

Possible Test 2: Test Pulling All GWT Geotargeted Sites From Country-Restricted SERPs

Now this one I’m pretty sure happened, but removing the geotargeted sites from the SERPs also has some inherent problems:

  1. Removal of their sites from country-restricted searches is likely to go unnoticed by many site owners. How many SEO teams regularly monitor country-restricted searches in depth, and what analytics tool lets you drill down by country-restricted search referrals?
  2. The population of GWT Geotargeting users is minuscule next to the population of searchers, so a sampling action may not gather enough data to be significant.

One thing we can be sure of – removing the geotargeted sites from country-restricted searches was not designed to test search users. The ‘Pages from’ interface test would cover most hypotheses around searcher response to removing GWT Geotargeted websites, and if Google was testing search users they would only need to sample a tiny fraction of searchers to yield statistically relevant results, so why make change for entire population?.

So Just Who Was Google Testing Then?

The removal of all GWT Geotargeted results from ‘Pages from’ searches (which is what I initially thought was a bug) wasn’t designed to test searchers. I believe it was designed to test site owner reactions to the removal of the Geotargeting capabilities within GWT. But, just as with the interface test, removing all GWT geotargeted sites from country-restricted search results as a test also has problems:

  1. There’s an assumption that site owners will notice the change during the test period, and therefore removing GWT Geotargeted sites from SERPs might still not yield valid results. You see, you’re basically testing the reactions of the target group (site owners) based on the changes that they may or may not see (of course maybe that’s what the test was all about?).

The fact that the complete population was tested (all GWT Geotargeted sites appear to have been removed for all users in restricted-country searches), and not a sample, also reinforces my belief that this was indeed a test, and that the test subjects were site owners not searchers.

How Long Would Google Run A Test For?

I mentioned that I initially thought the GWT Geotargeting results issue was a bug. I now believe this was a test. The ultimate confirmation for me was the dates – almost exactly 1 month passed between first reports and a reversion to the original states. That’s give or take the time it may have taken for me to see it at my various locations during the test period. Google likes to test for 30 days/1 month, and this combined with various responses I’ve received and seen justifies, in my mind anyway, the possibility that Google was also testing GWT Geotargeting Tool removal.

One Last Question – Is There Something Bigger?

Here’s the real question I’m interested in answering – Google appears to be testing geotargeting in the grander sense, not just the interface and GWT Geotargeting tool, so what’s likely to come down the road? In my Future of Geotargeting post I alluded to a possibility that the GWT Geotargeting Tool may be retired soon. I still feel this may happen. The country-restriction control on Goole’s search interface may also soon go away. But I now think that these multiple tests are part of something bigger, something that may involve a sea-change in how Google handles organic geotargeting. The worst case scenario is that ccTLD will play a greater role, but my gut tells me Google is far too clever to go backwards, and that something very new might be about to enter the mix.

Could I be wrong? Absolutely. Should you be concerned about this? In my opinion, YES. If I’m right these forthcoming changes will impact a huge number of websites and site owners.

And My Conclusion

I’m afraid we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens. If you think this post might be useful to others I’d really appreciate if you could help spread the word – twitter or blog about it to let others know.

I’ll be watching this carefully so subscribe to my feed or follow me on Twitter (yep, I might actually start posting there) if you want to be the first to find out about future Geotargeting changes.

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More Evidence of Google Geotargeting Gone Bad Mon, 27 Jul 2009 10:09:44 +0000 I was searching 'pages from Ireland' looking for a supplier of load-balancing routers. Google for some odd reason thought the most relevant result was from a French business story on Yahoo!s FR Biz site. Not good.

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I’m becoming more and more convinced that Google is having serious problems with geotargeting. I’ve previously written my thoughts on the future of google geotargeting, and various other posts ranging from set-up and usage of geotargeting right through to Local Search geotrageting.

Well today I see yet more evidence that something is terribly wrong with geotargeting:

Yahoo France appears in 'pages from Ireland' searches on
Yahoo France appears in ‘pages from Ireland’ searches on

Here’s the query I used.

I suppose there’s some small chance that Yahoo! have geotarget their FR content to Ireland, but the servers appear to be in the UK. But also returning French results when my browser language is set to EN also smacks to me of serious problems.

Hopefully this and other problems will be fixed, but as I mentioned in the future of google geotargeting post I have a feeling big changes may be on the cards…

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The Future of Google Geotargeting and ‘pages from’ Searches Mon, 13 Jul 2009 12:08:15 +0000 I've been watching lots of change over at Google the past few weeks, and some of these changes lead me to think that geotargeting, both the tool within GWT and the way we search on Google, is about to change.

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In the past couple of weeks Google has been testing the removal of the geotargeting selector on their country-level search properties. This was first reported for by SEO Home Blog. I subsequently saw this thread over on which also reported the test here in Ireland. The OP kindly sent me a screenshot: testing search without pages from Ireland selector testing search without pages from Ireland selector

Over the following week or two I actually saw this test running myself on two separate machines. It does seem like this test may have been a little more widespread. Some people were curious why Google would remove the radio selectors and simply add a small text link near the foot of the SERP result set. I’d hazard a further conjecture – maybe Google is going to remove this option altogether. Perhaps they’re moving towards more localised results being the default? The biggest problem I can see with this would be determining intent – sometimes I want to see global results rather than local, and I don’t always get them.

In Constant Flux

If you watch organic search, and Google in particular, you’ll know that the one constant is change. SERPs are in regular flux, but of late I’ve noticed a heightened level of flux. All I can do is guess what’s around the corner, but it does seem like anchor text weight has been lowered, or perhaps better to say that the source of the anchor text may impact the weight of that anchor text – somehow relevance weighting seems to have increased considerably. But back to geotargeting. What might be changing?

Google Webmaster Tools Geotargeting Broken?

In the very recent past Google either broke the GWT Geotargeting tool or changed considerably how that tool works. Previously when you used that tool to geotarget gTLDs you’d be able to find yourself in ‘pages from [country]‘ searches relevant to the settings you saved in GWT. And in some cases I saw that you could get the non-geotargeted root domain returned in ‘pages from [country]‘ searches, something I had put down to navigational queries. To give an example:

  • I set geotargeting to FR.
  • Now when I search ‘Pages : France’ the pages under may be returned.
  • If you search for [] on ‘Pages : France’ then Google might also return This seemed new to me, and likely indicated a navigational query.

So that’s how things used to work.

Fast-forward to Today

For about 2 weeks now I’ve noticed that geotargeted websites are no longer being returned in ‘pages from [country]‘ searches. I’m not sure if this is across the board or isolated to sites I cover (which includes sites I work with plus a few global sites I know have used the tool). Now searching even for brand name with ‘pages from [country]‘ only returns mentions of the brand, and not the geotargeted folder of the brand’d site. Hardly relevant. So is this a ‘feature’ or a ‘bug’? And could this be related to the testing mentioned above?

The Future of Geotargeting?

Based on how Google operates, the decision to remove or retain the ‘pages from [country]‘ searches will be based on hard quantitative data. But I’m going to stick my neck out and gamble that the changes to GWT Geotargeting may be related to the testing of ‘pages from [country]‘ selector. I’m going a bit further and hazard that changes in the pipeline for Google’s search interface and the GWT Geotargeting tool.

And here’s the kicker – if the changes I suspect are going to happen multinationals and global brands are going to need those relevant ccTLDs that had made somewhat redundant by the GWT Geotargeting tool.

All of the above with the usual caveat that it’s all IMHO, and I’ll probably end up being wrong about this. I’d love to hear from anyone else who’s seen this, or has any thoughts on where geotargeting is going.

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Google Local Business Center & How to Rank for Local Search Mon, 25 May 2009 10:27:18 +0000 A follow-up post explaining some Google Local search results in Irish SERPs, along with reference material describing best practice for boosting local search rankings for your business.

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It’s been fairly interesting to watch, and I’ve been doing some more digging around to better understand both cause and effect of Google Local Business Center listings appearing in the one box area on Irish SERPs.

Table of Contents

Google adds Ireland to Local Business Center
Local Results Arrive on
Variations of “One-Box” in Google Local
Google OneBox “10 Pack”
The “3 Pack” OneBox Entry
The Holy Grail – Authoritative OneBox Entry
Google Local Ranking Factors
How To Get Into Google Local
Some Local Experts’ Opinions
Do Links Affect Local Rankings?

A Brief Recap – History Of Google Local in Ireland

In November 2007 I first noticed that Google had added Ireland to it’s Local Business Center. At the time I thought this was big news as it seemed to indicate the imminent release of Google Local listings in Irish SERPs. As per Google’s online docs:

You can check if it’s available for your country by looking through the drop-down menu in the Local Business Center.

Forward to today – Showing Local Results

Well imminent is certainly wasn’t, but last week we started seeing the first Google Local business listings for Irish searches.

It’s certainly early days, and Google will need to iron out plenty of teething issues, but I decided to take a look into some of the features of local listings, and some of the potential signals Google uses to rank the local businesses listed. I had some very good help from Michael Wall based on his experience with Google Local in Northern Ireland. Michael runs a web design company up North. I’ll come back to Michael’s observations a little later, but for now look focus on a little more background to how Local listings work.

3 Flavours of One Box

First thing I noticed was that there is some variety of One Box Local displays – 3 that I’ve seen – and the type your business is displayed in can make quite a difference. (The “One Box” is a general purpose area directly above the organic listings in Google’s SERPs.)

The “10 Pack”

The 10 Pack is a Google Map with 10 adjacent business listings. This type of one box takes up the most space, and ads quite a number of additional links for searchers to hit prior to getting to the organic SERP results. Here’s an example of some 10-pack results:

Hotel Dublin with 10 Pack
[hotel dublin] with 10 Pack local listing

The interesting thing about that particular SERP is that it is giving power back to the individual hotels over the aggregators that generally rule the organics. I wonder will the hotels cop onto this and push their local listings now? I’d say there’s quite a lot of fee revenue that the hotels can reclaim from affiliates/aggregators if they can crack Local Search. Here’s another example of local listings pushing power back to individual sites from another form of aggregator – the review site:

Restaurant Dublin with 10 Pack
[restaurants dublin] with 10 Pack Local listing.

Now in this case has been pushed down by a local listing containing 10 Dublin restaurants. Here’s another interesting feature of Local listings – the inclusion of structured data, in this case reviews. It’s difficult to see in the small image, but beside each restaurant local listing there’s a link to reviews. The reviews are coming from a number of very large and trusted seed sites, such as, and I don’t believe that Irish review sites data is used by Google. If you run a restaurant maybe you should prompt your clientelle to go create reviews if they are happy with your service?

Finally here’s a more regular example – without aggregator sites – of a local listing that’s going to hurt the previous king of the castle:

Pizza Dublin with 10 Pack
[pizza dublin] with 10 Pack local listing

This one is a good example of how previous dominance of the SERPs for your top keyword can really get hurt if you’re not in Local. Apache Pizza were sitting golden with their sitelinks. Those sitelinks are a pretty good indicator that the site is seen as authoritative for the generic search term [pizza dublin]. But now 10 of Apache’s competitors are sitting sweet above them, with both phone numbers and visual indication of location. This particualr local listing is going to hurt Apache, of that I’m sure.

The 3 Pack Local Listing

In some cases Google will only show 3 local results, with extended listings. Seems most likely to occur when they either don’t know of enough local sites or no one site is seen as authoritative. Here’s a topical example for me personally:

SEO Dublin Local Result with 3 Pack
[seo dublin] with 3 Pack local listing

In this case each local listing takes up 3 lines – the business name and URL, address and link to more info. I registered for Google Local back when it was launched. I did so to see how the system worked so that I could write my blog post all those months ago, and not particularly for any ranking advantage (I travel a lot, so I added my Dublin home address to my listing back then).

When local listings went live last week I wasn’t in the top 3 local sites. So I ‘tweaked’ my company name and categories to see what would happen (take care the guidelines though – I might be breaking them). Lo-and-behold there I am now, so there’s a small tip to one of the factors used to rank sites for local. Also note the the distance from the median point in Dublin city seems less relevant than my business name and categories. There’s a very interesting post by Bill Slawski over at discussing location sensitivity – basically some queries may respond with a larger geographical spread of businesses then others.

Authoritative One Box Local Listing – The Holy Grail

Now if I were Apache Pizza (or their SEO) right now this is what I’d be aiming for. This is a local One Box listing where only one business is listed – otherwise referred to as the Authority Listing. I’m still digging into this to find out how difficult it is to achieve, and what factors trigger it’s appearance, but regardless of how you get the Authoritative Local One Box it certainly looks nice, and I imagine works very well:

Sat Nav Dublin with Authoritative One Box Local Listing
[sat nav dublin] with Authoritative One Box Local Listing

The One Box, the #1 in organic with site links, plus number #2 in organic for deep page. Augmented with an Adwords ad and you have a SERP dominated in every way by a single website. It’s important to note that many SERPs are going to be far more competitive making this difficult if not impossible to achieve, but there’s no harm in setting your goals high.

Ranking Factors for Google Local Search

If you’re still reading this now then it’s about time I mentioned some of the signals I’ve found that can help to get your site ranked in Local Search…

Inclusion – Creating your Local Business Lisiting

Obviously the first step is to get yourself listed – you need to sign up at, and then:

  1. Click “Add new listing” and start by adding your basic business details – business name, website URL, address, phone numbers etc. All listings have to be verified, and the fastest way to do so is via SMS, so you might want to include your mobile number at this stage.
  2. The next step is to write a business description. I’m not sure if the content of this is used for ranking, but I’d try to make this short, descriptive and searcher friendly. Not unlike an extended META description.
  3. You’ll then have to fix the map pin to point at your location before you can get to the next step.
  4. Next you’ll be requested to enter the business categories appropriate to you. This seems to be very important, and something that Michael Wall also found made a big difference. When you enter a category Google might make suggestions. The experience I’ve had to date is that your categories should match primary keywords, rather than what Google suggests. So check out your site stats to see what makes you money and use those keywords to create your category list. You can add up to 5 categories, and you don’t need to include geographic qualifiers into these.
  5. You can enter opening times, payment options, and an interesting feature – photos and video from YouTube. None of these will impact your ranking (AFAIK), but rich media is never going to hurt when people click through to your business listing.
  6. The last data you can add are custom key-value pairs. Can be useful for any data that fits well into a definition list, and as of this writing I have no indication that it affects ranking.
  7. The final step is to verify your listing, and I’ve found this can be troublesome. SMS seems like the easiest way, but just today I found bugs in the system that prevented me from doing so. You can also have Google call your listed number and their automated system will read your PIN number to you.

Ranking in Local Search

Here’s the bit most people will be interested in. It seems that ranking signals include many of the primary signals used for organic ranking – links seem to have a large impact (especially in the case of Authoritative Listings). But the actual listing and business location are strong factors also. An interesting survey compiled by David Mihn that I came across lists the following factors as most important (score out of 5 in brackets):

  1. Local Business Listing (LBL) address in city being searched (4.13)
  2. Proper categorization of LBL (4.00)
  3. Product / service keyword in LBL title (3.78)
  4. Proximity of business address to city centroid (3.59)
  5. Validation of business information with third-party providers (3.57)

I doubt number 5 above is used for Irish listings, or maybe I should say that I hope Google wont use or similar, as I feel that their (GP) business practices are sharp to say the least. Number 4 above may also be query-dependent as per the Bill Slawski reference previously. But certainly 1-3 are very much in your own control, and as such you should consider these items carefully when creating your Local Business Listing.

In a separate blog post titled “10 Likely Elements of Google’s Local Search Algorithm” Mike Magee mentions amongst others [my notes in square brackets]:

  • Availability/Trust of other business data [note: Google may use third party data, but as of writing I'm not sure they have providers here in Ireland]
  • Listings in 2nd-tier Local Directories [note: again in Ireland Google may have nothing to work with]
  • Listings in Vertical Directories [note: this one is something I like also for organic ranking boosts]
  • References from other Web sites [note: Dmoz local listings unfortuantely come to mind, and both Dmoz and Yahoo were mentioned by Matt Magee]

Matt has some other interesting items in his post also, and it’s worth a read.

Another good post I found was titled “Extreme Local Search Optimization Tactics” by Chris Silver Smith of KeyRelevance. One or two of the more interesting tactics he mentions [again my notes in square brackets]:

  • Change your business name so that the first characters will be earliest in the alphabet for your locality.
  • Move your business so that you can have presence closer to your city’s center.
  • Get a separate directory listing for every city in your area for which you provide services. [Note: you'll need PO boxes or separate physical addresses for this one]
  • Customize your address by having your street renamed to include beneficial keywords. [Note: I'm constantly amazed by the US :)]
  • Lightly influence user ratings to your benefit. [Note: not sure that this might now be illegal in the EU?]

I do think that links will be a strong signal for local results, and it might be useful to research the backlinks of sites listed in local search with a view to replicating their strategy. This has long been one of the more useful tactics for organic SEO, and I feel it will also be useful for local rankings. I’d also imagine that anchor text may be the primary factor in achieving the Authority One Box Local listing mentioned above.

Lastly – A Quick Summary

Wow. If you’re still here then well done. This was a rather mammoth post, but I feel Local Search is the biggest change to happen to Irish SEO in a long time.

To summarise:
You need to get your business listed asap, giving due consideration to the profile you create as it will impact how you rank. Then you need to consider citations (links) to your site – they need to include references to your address and location where possible. Anchor text may also be very useful for ranking and getting that Authority Listing.

The very last thing I’ll mention is that Google have a pretty good Local Business Center User Guide. It’s buried in Google’s help center (which is fast becoming a mess IMO), but very well worth a read/watch.

I’d love to hear any experience people are having with Google Local Search here in Ireland, so don’t be afraid to leave a comment below!

Have thoughts on this post? Head over and leave a comment on the blog: Google Local Business Center & How to Rank for Local Search

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Google Local One Box Listings Appear – Biggest Change to Irish Search? Wed, 20 May 2009 10:59:48 +0000 Google Local Search One Box listings have finally landed in I've written up some info on what these are and how you can get your site listed ion Local search results.

Have thoughts on this post? Head over and leave a comment on the blog: Google Local One Box Listings Appear – Biggest Change to Irish Search?

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This could be rather big for anyone working in SEO in Ireland. It doesn’t seem so long ago, but in fact I had to go back to November 2007 to find my post about Google Local Business Center including Ireland. Well it took a while for anything else to happen, but finally it appears that Ireland is getting local listings in the one box listing (if you’re interested in what the “one box” is here’s a post I wrote in January 2007 explaining the one box [where does the time go??]).

Cork Web Design Local One Box Listing

Earlier this morning I received an email from Simon at Cork Web Design telling me about this:

Web Design Ccork [web design cork]

I’m seeing one box local results appearing for both ‘Web search’ and ‘pages from Ireland’. Now this really is a big deal – if you previously held onto a #1 position prepare to see search referrals take a nose dive, at least initially as the novelty factor gets people clicking on local results. Here’s a search for [web design wicklow]:

Web Design Wicklow (Web search) [web design wicklow]

The Impact of Local Listings in One Box?

So imagine for a moment that the exact match domain has probably sat pretty at #1 for ever, receiving targeted referrals from Google. All of a sudden today three of their competitors now sit above them with a very strong piece of collateral (the map) to draw attention. It looks like, who are sitting at #4 in organic now has both the top local listing and their #4 position. Not only have the previous #1 lost relative position in the SERP, but some of their competitors now effectively have multiple listings, one of which sits atop the SERP.

How to get included?

If you read my post about Google Local Business Listings you can find out how to get your site onto the One Box local results map. I’ll actually have to do some digging to find out again how listings are ranked – I remember reading up about this, but it was almost 1.5 years back now.

What other SERPs are showing One Box Local Listings?

I only had a quick look around, so if you’ve seen the one box on your travels please let me know what keywords are triggering the maps. For now I’m confident that only lcoal search queries with a geographic modifier will bring up the local results (due to Ireland’s crappy IP address management).

Happy hunting on Local Search!

[Update] Obviously this still has a few kinks to be ironed out:
Web Design Wicklow More Link
Clicking on the “More” link brings you to “web design near Wicklow, NB, Canada”

That’s surely a crappy user experience, and might mean that these local listings disappear quite soon… (hat tip to Jason)

Have thoughts on this post? Head over and leave a comment on the blog: Google Local One Box Listings Appear – Biggest Change to Irish Search?

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]]> 11 showing UK Results? Fri, 16 May 2008 08:14:40 +0000 Why oh why do you give us UK results when we're sitting here in Ireland?

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What do you do when you’re blogging regularity turns into a stubbornly long hiatus? Do a bit of Google bashing :mrgreen:

So why when I go to and search for ‘reach and wash window cleaning’ (‘web search’) do they give me a whole bunch of UK sites?

Google Search: reach and wash window cleaning
Google search for ‘reach and wash window cleaning’

Has anyone else noticed this?

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