I referenced this earlier, but it got pulled. I suspect it was because there was a hard link.
I'll try again. I think this is extremely relevant and deserves commentary and observations to address how much of this is in effect and how well it works.
1. A patent was issued in August, 2005 describing Googles designs for attaching a physical location for a website such as a local business.
2. Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea and Cre8asite forums copied the patent and supplied an anaysis on the next day.
3. You can find this at cre8asite in the Search Engine Optimization category, Google subcategory. The thread is called something like geographic locations to web pages. The last post to the thread occurred 1/1/06.
4. I found it last autumn and have made a few comments on it at the aforementioned forum and some other places.
A. A brief summary of the patent includes the following:
A website wanting local visibility should have the following:
i. local address information and phone number
the address need not be complete as the patent will interpret partial addresses
ii. Other pages in the site should have some anchor text phrases that are "locational" to give credence to the location aspect. (you can find these words within the patent)
iii. The location information should be within 2-5 links, all within the same site, of search terms to give the site its "locationalness".
This last aspect seemed to eliminate massive sites such as amazon and ebay from the searches.
B. I think the patent went into effect in February, 05. (It is not unusual for the publication of google's patent applications to follow actual implementation of the patent itself.) Last February, during the SuperBowl update, one item that both I and some other webmasters noted was that local businesses/sites started to show for logical local searches whereas before they weren't. In particular, large sites like amazon, and ebay were showing for searches like Philadelphia caterer or St. Louis electrician. During and after the update, businesses and their sites with the minimal application of factors that Google mentioned started to show at the top of Google serps for the appropriate relevant searches.
C. From observation the 2-5 link filter seems to minimize the ranking impact of very large sites with complex page architecture. In particular it seems to minimize the serps quality of diretories such as IYP where there are numerous categories and complex site structures.
D. On the other hand tight topical directories seem to work very well. For instance there are directories in a variety of industries like catering and nursing schools that will show well for search queries at google like Philadelphia nursing schools and Miami caterers.
E. In the aforementioned thread started by Slawski, it was mentioned that it would seem to make sense that chain businesses with multiple sites in different cities devote single pages to each site. This seemed to apply for some time. Sites with all their locations on one page were not showing as well as sites with a single page for each address.
More recently I've observed that businesses with multiple locations with all the addresses on one page are showing well in serps for each city and the service/product.
It could be that google made subsequent changes in its algo, or had some kind of filter applied.
F. The algo does not apply in the same way as use of Google local, where it lists businesses by distance from a site (IP address/host). Instead the algo gives preference for the town/city name and/or possible state name for a search query.
It would be very helpful to get additional comments on observations on application of this patent. My observations are limited to a small number of types of businesses with regular serps analysis of them. It would be helpful to give this information wider exposure.
Look forward to your comments.