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The idea is based on my limited observations. I think it deserves deeper study and commentary to determine if it is valid. I welcome comments and especially observations and experience.
To date I have not seen commentary on this topic.
1. Google issued a patent on local search in August of last year.
2. It was scarcely mentioned in forums.
3. My observations are that it went into effect in Feb 05 during the 05 google superbowl update. At that time, sites that showed for localized searches for a business/service/product for a city/state in Yahoo and MSN were not showing in serps for Google. During the update these sites started showing in google serps and started getting localized traffic.
Other webmasters handling local sites commented upon this. We didn't understand it at the time.
4. I came across the google patent in Autumn last year. It seemed to explain what happened in February of 05.
One observation on how the patent may "unsandbox" a local site with address information.
In June last year a friend put a new site for his new business. We have an affiliated relationship.
We traded links. My business site has fairly strong optimization. I put up a link to his site with anchor text phrase describing the business service;
Something like.....dog walking services Philadelphia New Jersey Pennsylvania.(not actual)
The business has address and phone number information on it (which is a reflection of what google describes in its local patent application)
Say the business is located in New Jersey.
Since shortly after the backlink from my site went to the new site the following has occurred.
1. The site is ranking first at Y and MSN for variations on the 3 phrases for searches as follows:
Dog walking services Philadelphia
Dog walking services Pennsylvania
Dog walking services New Jersey
In google though, the site ranks first for
Dog walking services New Jersey.
It is buried for both:
Dog walking services Pennsylvania and....
Dog walking services Philadelphia
The site ranks #1 in allinanchor at google for all three phrases
It actually ranks high in allinanchor for dog walking services.
My assumption is that the address information was sufficient to "unsandbox" the site for the term with the state name wherein the business is located...versus the other two jurisdictions.
Clearly the term is not competitive. The business service is small and the traffic is clearly not large.
Regardless it is fascinating as it applies to google searches that the serps rankings are so dramatically different for the 3 jurisdictions. Rankings for the city and state where the business is not located are similar---rediculously high relative to the fact that there aren't sites that compete.
The site is ranked #1 in google for the service relative to the state where the business is housed.
Frankly my observations are that google has instituted terrific algos that are locally oriented.
You can see it in a different application.
Do a search for a local entity within a city...say lamp store San francisco.
The businesses referenced at the top of the vertical local description under Local results for Lamp store include a couple of stores within a few miles of some geo central location for San Francisco.
Go to the local references. They are links and page references to the business.
The interesting thing is that they are all either topical or local.
That is an effective application of its algo to specifically reference the business. It is incredibly focused.
Use this same application in Y or MSN and the references are nowhere's near as focused.
Very interesting stuff and potentially very powerful.
I look forward to comments. BTW, I'm not trying to suggest that my comments are 100% accurate. I'm looking for wider observations and comments to see if we can come up with a better understanding of these phenomena.