Like organic search, one of the areas of search that brings a lot of traffic to businesses is Local SEO and Maps.
There have been a number of patents that focus upon local search, and show that it is often about structured data and Semantic marketing.
This is an area where citations have as much value as links, and businesses are considered local entities.
When you optimize a site for a business, often optimizing it for organic search and for local seo providing two separate sets of signals that business can be found through.
One of the earliest patents involving local search at Google was about collecting structured data about local business entities from sources such as data aggregators, enterprise business sites, and local business directories, which has them focusing upon consistency between those data sources, which is a major concern for local SEO.
Google does track your mobile location history if you use Google Maps to navigate to places.
If you use Google Maps to navigate from place to place, or if you have agreed to be a local guide for Google Maps, there is a chance that you have seen Google Mobile Location history information. There is a Google Account Help page about how to Manage or delete your Location History. The mobile location history page starts off by telling us:
Your Location History helps you get better results and recommendations on Google products. For example, you can see recommendations based on places you’ve visited with signed-in devices or traffic predictions for your daily commute.
You may see this history as your timeline, and there is a Google Help page to View or edit your timeline. This page starts out by telling us:
How Google May Diminish Reviews Based on Location History
I don’t consider myself paranoid, but after reading a lot of Google patents, I’ve been thinking of my phone as my Android tracking device. It’s looking like Google thinks of phones similarly; paying a lot of attention to things such as a person’s location history. After reading a recent patent, I’m fine with Google continuing to look at my location history, and reviews that I might write, even though there may not be any financial benefit to me. When I write a review of business at Google, it’s normally because I’ve either really liked that place or disliked it, and wanted to share my thoughts about it with others.
A Google patent application filed and published by the search engine, but not yet granted is about reviews of businesses.
It tells us about how Google might diminish reviews for businesses because of location history.
Can the amount of travel time someone might take to get to a place be a good indication of the quality of that place? That is the assumption behind a recently granted patent from Google that focuses upon local SEO.
Travel time in the patent is referred to as a “time investment a person may be willing to make to visit a specific location.” The travel time patent provides more details with the words:
Quality measures for locations are often based on one or more reviews related to the locations. For example, user reviews and/or professional reviews may be utilized to determine a quality measure for a given location. The quality measures may be associated with the given location in a database and may be utilized by one or more applications and/or provided to a user. For example, a user search for restaurants in a particular area may return search results for restaurants that are ranked based on the quality measure and/or that are displayed in combination with an indication of the quality measure. Indications of the quality measure may include a numerical rating, a number of stars, etc.
Google was granted a local SEO patent this week to enable them to check whether people are following recommendations in search results to visit geographic locations – to see how many people actually visited those places. And it’s probably good for many businesses to have Google recommending that people visit them.
For example, people living near a certain restaurant may be recommended as a place they might like to go; and the patent determines whether or not people may be following those suggestions.
The patent provides a summary of the steps that it takes in ranking recommendations based upon whether people actually visit the places being suggested:
The ultimate goal of any spam detection system is to penalize “spammy” content.
~ Reverse engineering circumvention of spam detection algorithms (Linked to below)
Four years ago, I wrote a post about a Google patent titled, The Google Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent. It told us that Google might be keeping an eye out for someone attempting to manipulate organic search results by spamming pages, and Google may delay responding to someone’s manipulative actions to make them think that whatever actions they were taking didn’t have an impact upon search results. That patent focused upon organic search results, and Google’s Head of Web Spam Matt Cutts responded to my post with a video in which he insisted that just because Google produced a patent on something doesn’t mean that they were going to use it. The video is titled, “What’s the latest SEO misconception that you would like to put to rest? ” Matt’s response is as follows:
I’m not sure how effective the process in that patent was, but there is a now a similar patent from Google that focuses upon rankings of local search SEO results. The patent describes this web spam detection problem in this way:
The business listing search results, or data identifying a business, its contact information, website address, and other associated content, may be displayed to a user such that the most relevant businesses may be easily identified. In an attempt to generate more customers, some businesses may employ methods to include multiple different listings to identify the same business. For example, a business may contribute a large number of listings for nonexistent business locations to a search engine, and each listing is provided with a contact telephone number that is associated with the actual business location. The customer may be defrauded by contacting or visiting an entity believed to be at a particular location only to learn that the business is actually operating from a completely different location. Such fraudulent marketing tactics are commonly referred to as “fake business spam”.