Google Local citation & review data study

  • 1
  • December 1, 2009
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

With Google Local results taking up more and more space in the search results local search is becoming (at least for Branded3) one of the key things we focus on for clients with multiple locations.

The Google Local algorithm isn’t the same as the main search algorithm but it does have similarities such as citations & reviews which work on the same principle as PageRank & links.

Tom at Distilled has done some Google Local research around hotels in Seattle to find out how the raw numbers of reviews & citations are correlated with rankings and found that (as you might expect with Google) the algorithm is a lot more complex than just looking at raw numbers. Reviews from certain sites appear to count much more than others.

I’ve included a brief summary below but Tom has also published the data in an Excel file which you can get via his post.

1) – The raw number of reviews is not the only ranking factor.

We can see this by comparing for example the Renaissance Seattle Hotel and the Hilton Seattle Hotel – the Renaissance has WAY more reviews but still doesn’t rank.

2) – The raw number of citations is not the only ranking factor.

We can see this because the Grand Hyatt Seattle Hotel has an obscene number of citations compared to any other hotel in Seattle.

3) – The combined number of citations and reviews is not the only ranking factor

Although we’re getting warmer here (the sum column, E) this isn’t the whole story. If we look at the average sum of the top 7 ranking hotels we see that there are 3 hotels that don’t rank which have a higher sum than average – Renaissance, Grand Hyatt and the Crowne Plaza.