Google Panda Update Helps Local Search Results

25 Apr

CNET has now released some data, as it compiled about 100,000 Google results, testing Google.com in March, and then last week, just after the new update. The data reflects earlier reported data from SearchMetrics in terms of news sites benefiting and Demand Media’s eHow sliding.

One interesting element CNET’s data brings to the table, however, is that of Google’s localization and its relationship to the update.

“We also tested what happens if you connect to Google.com from an overseas Internet address. We picked one in London. We performed the same searches on the same day–the only variable that should have changed, in other words, was our location,” explains CNET chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh. “The results? Google engages in significant localization efforts, as you might imagine, with Yelp.com being the largest beneficiary by far.”

“In searches originating from the U.K., Yelp appeared only twice,” he adds. “In U.S. searches, by contrast, it was the ninth-most popular Web site, with both its topic and individual business pages weaved seamlessly into the main search results.”

SearchMetrics’ data did show yelp.co.uk as having a 29.59% boost in visibility.

Yelp picked up 45 first-page appearances for generic searches like “chocolate,” “cleaning,” “food,” “lights,” “laundry,” “tv,” and “weddings,” from a Califronia address, according to McCullagh, while Davidsbridal.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Walgreens.com also benefited in the U.S. from localization.

It’s not all just big brands though.

Local-based results won big too, based on CNET’s testing. Not just local locations for big brands or local businesses, but locally-themed results.

“For our U.S. tests, we used an Internet address near Palo Alto, Calif., which prompted Google to rank nearby businesses and municipal Web sites near the top of search results,” McCullagh explains. “The City of Palo Alto’s Web site appears in the first page of search results for terms including ‘adventures,’ ‘art,’ ‘business,’ ‘gas,’ and ‘jobs.’ PaloAltoOnline.com makes repeat appearances (‘budget cuts,’ ‘restaurants’), as do Stanford, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, and Mike’s Bikes.”

It’s no secret that Google has put a great deal more emphasis on local in recent times, but it’s interesting to see how this is playing out in light of the Panda update, which was seemingly unrelated (based more on content farms).

We saw how news sites and video sites appeared to come out as big winners, but this research does seem to indicate even more wins for local.

The benefits to Yelp are interesting, considering the tension there has been between Yelp and Google, regarding Google Place Pages and their use of Yelp reviews. Google’s own reviews system – Hotpot – has now found its way into Places, and right into organic search results themselves.

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