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My partner in crime at Whitespark (Darren) just brought a blog post to our team's attention. In it, the author is claiming that a Google rep confirmed that one of the ranking factors for your maps listing is the number of clicks it gets. In fact according to the author's blog post, it sounds like it's a pretty big ranking factor. It can get a business located outside the centroid ranked higher than a business in the heart of the centroid.

At any rate, we're having an interesting discussion about it in house. I'm curious what everyone's take is here. Do you have any evidence to support these claims? It would make for an interesting test case. I suspect if it's true, the clicks are based on geographic clicks - meaning you couldn't hire someone over seas to just click on your listing to improve your rankings. Google probably looks for clicks from that geographic location (if any of this holds water in the first place).

You can read the post here:

This Is Why People Hate Google | On the Web & On My Mind

Travis
 

Linda Buquet

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Thanks for sharing Travis.

It is true and has always been true that part of even the organic algo is how many click through.

The other factor no one talks about is stick rate - how long they stay on a page. True for your site and I think also true of G+ L pages.

Therefore bounce rate would also be a factor.

When you think about all both those metrics would indicate how popular or 'good' a page is.

This is one of the reasons I think 3D business tours can be a ranking boost. They would boost all those factors.

One of the reasons I believe this is true is that a long time ago a Google rep told me. Don't remember if you remember this from my OLD OLD training. But I used to teach a video trick back when videos still showed up on the Place page and back when you could add anyone's video.

Any the rep TOLD ME something like this: "Google won't even tell me how the algo works but you KNOW click through and stick rate are 2 of the factors that go into the ranking, right? What do you think would happen if you added a Youtube video that was REALLY viral and popular to your client's Place page. One that's relevant but not your clients. Every time folks watch that video on YouTube it's like they clicked over to your client's Place page and watched it. AND the while they watched it, it would be like they were sitting on your client's page that whole time."

Now this never made sense to me because when someone would click to watch the vid they were watching on YT not right on the page. But I DID utilize the tip on clients and did some stealth video ranking stuff and my clients always did rank high, so not sure if that was one of the reasons.

BUT my point is he said click and stick were factors.
 

Linda Buquet

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OK so maybe this is a tad gray...

Back when I had time to care about my own rankings for Google Places Optimization, I was always #1.
(For awhile, a couple years I think.) And I never did any link building or anything like that. But did attract lots of good just natural links.

But one thing I DID do was bookmark Google search for "Google Places Optimization" and pin it to browser. Then 2- 3 times a day I would try to remember to click my link from search and then stay on the page for awhile. (I know, shades of gray... :rolleyes:)

I no longer have time to do that and have dropped to #9.

There are lots of other reasons for the drop including: with all the name changes, not sure how many still search for "Google Places Optimization" so I stopped optimizing for it. And part if it is I now get traffic from so many other places and also am so busy, I'm just not as focused on SEO. BUT part of it could be I'm not longer clicking my link 2 - 3 times a day. :p
 

whitespark

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This click stuff is super interesting to me. I love your information on including a good video for stick rate. It would apply to the Google+ Local page (embed a video in a post) and the website. Travis, let's add that to our LocalSpark process.

I think there is an opportunity here to test. Let's pick a business at random and see if we can move it up the rankings.

Here's what I'd like everyone to do:


  1. Go to Google.com and search for "denver painters"
  2. Click on the Google+ page link for "Highland Painting Company" (I see them at position F currently. No, they are not my client. I randomly searched.)
  3. Explore the Google+ page. Scroll around. Highlight the description. Highlight the phone number. Click on photos. Browse through everything you can. Star the place. Get driving directions.
  4. Now click from the Google+ listing to their website.
  5. Spend a minute on the homepage. Scrolling, reading, highlighting text.
  6. Click through to some other pages of the site, spending a bit of time on each page.
  7. Finally, click through to the contact page, stay on it for a bit, then leave the tab open in your browser for an hour or so.

[Linda adds - see post #9 below with more deets. Do your testing with Chrome. Try to be careful not to hit back in browser to return to search results. Also find in them in Maps. Click their listing there. And click to go to G+ L page from maps.]


Once you've done it, post "done" on this thread so we can keep track of how many people do it. Then we'll check in a day or two (in an incognito browser) to see if their rankings have changed at all.

Thanks to all who participate!
 

Linda Buquet

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Here's what I'd like everyone to do:
  1. Go to Google.com and search for "denver painters"
  2. Click on the Google+ page link for "Highland Painting Company" (I see them at position F currently. No, they are not my client. I randomly searched.)
  3. Explore the Google+ page. Scroll around. Highlight the description. Highlight the phone number. Click on photos. Browse through everything you can. Star the place. Get driving directions.
  4. Now click from the Google+ listing to their website.
  5. Spend a minute on the homepage. Scrolling, reading, highlighting text.
  6. Click through to some other pages of the site, spending a bit of time on each page.
  7. Finally, click through to the contact page, stay on it for a bit, then leave the tab open in your browser for an hour or so.

Once you've done it, post "done" on this thread so we can keep track of how many people do it. Then we'll check in a day or two (in an incognito browser) to see if their rankings have changed at all.

DONE! And thanks for starting this test Darren.

Although Google reads this forum so could twart our efforts.

We should do a different test in the Private Pro forum, but would not have as many participants there.

ONE OTHER FACTOR, I didn't touch on is bounce back to search rates. I mentioned stick rate, meaning how long they stay on a page. And I mentioned bounce rate which is normally thought of in terms of people that hit your site only stay 2 seconds and leave.

But bounce back to search is another factor I believe. (Not sure what to call it.) But think practically. If someone is searching for Denver painter and hits Darren's test site. THEN HITS BACK IN BROWSER that could signal Google it was not a good result, since the searcher went back to SERPs to look for something else.

I'm clicking back and forth all kinds of ways for clients when I do consulting and rank checking. But I always try to be really carefully about not backing up in browser to get back to the search results. If I need to do more digging I try to remember to start a new search in new browser.

So keep that in mind in this test. As you are clicking around doing all the things Darren suggests, try not to back browser to search.

ALSO try to do your testing in Chrome. Because Chrome phones home with all link clicks. The FF Google toolbar used to as well and that's what I used to use but it does not work in the new versions of FF.
I just realized I did all my testing in FF. So I need to go do it again in Chrome.

The other thing to add to Darren's process is to click on their listing from map search to the G+ page. And then G+ page back to their maps listing.
 

jackson_lo

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DONE! And thanks for starting this test Darren.

Although Google reads this forum so could twart our efforts.

We should do a different test in the Private Pro forum, but would not have as many participants there.

ONE OTHER FACTOR, I didn't touch on is bounce back to search rates. I mentioned stick rate, meaning how long they stay on a page. And I mentioned bounce rate which is normally thought of in terms of people that hit your site only stay 2 seconds and leave.

But bounce back to search is another factor I believe. (Not sure what to call it.) But think practically. If someone is searching for Denver painter and hits Darren's test site. THEN HITS BACK IN BROWSER that could signal Google it was not a good result, since the searcher went back to SERPs to look for something else.

I'm clicking back and forth all kinds of ways for clients when I do consulting and rank checking. But I always try to be really carefully about not backing up in browser to get back to the search results. If I need to do more digging I try to remember to start a new search in new browser.

So keep that in mind in this test. As you are clicking around doing all the things Darren suggests, try not to back browser to search.

ALSO try to do your testing in Chrome. Because Chrome phones home with all link clicks. The FF Google toolbar used to as well and that's what I used to use but it does not work in the new versions of FF.
I just realized I did all my testing in FF. So I need to go do it again in Chrome.

The other thing to add to Darren's process is to click on their listing from map search to the G+ page. And then G+ page back to their maps listing.

Hey Linda - I believe the term you are looking for is POGOSTICKING. Rand talked about this in one of his WBF here: Solving the Pogo-Stick Problem - Whiteboard Friday - Moz. He claims Google and Bing both use it, and he's illustrated what "could be" a mathematical formula for it, although he did say he's hypothetical. Perhaps if a listing has a high Average POGOSTICK Rate, they will be bumped down. This study that Darren is running will be an interesting one, because it may show if Google's intention is to get people engaged with their local listings, that someone would either highlight the phone number (or tap to call on the phone) or click on the website for more information.
 

johncrenshaw

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Done.

CTR strongly determines how high your ad shows up and how much you pay per click in AdWords...if they believe it's so relevant there, why wouldn't they be using it elsewhere?
 

Linda Buquet

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Ranking could change for lots of other reasons. The algo could change and others in the pack shift too, so if all we know is HIS current ranking it would not tell the whole story. OR someone could just up their game and leap frog him and move him down. OR rankings can shift because the map radius changes.

So documenting with screenshot, so we can get the full picture for comparison sake.

Screenshot 5/23 10:30 AM PST


ClickTestDenverPainter.jpg

ClickTestDenverPainter.jpg
 

Linda Buquet

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Hey Linda - I believe the term you are looking for is POGOSTICKING. Rand talked about this in one of his WBF here: Solving the Pogo-Stick Problem - Whiteboard Friday - Moz. He claims Google and Bing both use it, and he's illustrated what "could be" a mathematical formula for it, although he did say he's hypothetical. Perhaps if a listing has a high Average POGOSTICK Rate, they will be bumped down. This study that Darren is running will be an interesting one, because it may show if Google's intention is to get people engaged with their local listings, that someone would either highlight the phone number (or tap to call on the phone) or click on the website for more information.

Thanks Jackson! Knew there had to be a term for it. But I believe I even saw Cutts talk about this a long time ago. A signal that someone did not like the result they found and goes back to search to find a better result.
 
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