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    Geographically local back links


    I recently posted with finding out why I have hit issues with recent ranking...

    Speaking on another forum, one thing that was pointed out is that for my competition all their work basically gives geographically local back links.

    So I'm not talking about a rich anchor text, more the locations of the businesses are in Dorset (found on Google Maps) and Google is saying this local business links to my competitor, therefore this is very important.

    With me I do have some local customers, but a high proportion are not local (Oxfordshire and abroad).

    So whats being said is even though Moz is saying my DA and PA are nice and high, because his backlinks are geographically closer, Google see those sites as more important when ranking for 'web design dorset'.

    Im interested in anyone who does not agree with this idea as apart from paying for Adwords, Im not sure if your starting out how you ever dent a local listing...

    In other words is generic link building dead for geographical organic listings...
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    Its a good theory and there may well be some weighting in the Google Algo but it will only be a weighting which can be overcome through other means. I'd like to rewind a little.

    1) You say you want to rank for 'phrase X' but do you have any evidence that this will benefit you? I know it makes sense that it should because of your experience at your last location but that does not mean it will work where you are now.

    Normally I'd take 1,000 GBP for an Adwords campaign doing an exact match on your phrase. Set up Adwords and Analytics so you can monitor exactly where these visitors go and how many of them actually do what you want them to do. Then rethink.

    2) Realistically if most of your links (and those of your competitors) are the "Website by: ABC" in the footer they are going to be very weak indeed, perhaps even discounted completely. It could simply be that your competition is stronger in your new location.

    3) Moz is a Google 'best guess', an educated guess but it is not Google and it is often wrong so don't lean to hard on it as Gospel.
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    So to take your points (and please don't look at this as an argue, but I'm looking for ideas..)

    1) When I first started WBM, it was part of the research to find the sort of clients I wanted and time after time they started their search 'web design x', so I am happy that this is the phrase that matches who I want to connect to.. I also come up for a lot of WordPress related searches as well as others, but for this thread, I want to concentrate on this as this is my current focus, understanding the relationship between a search and the resulting pages brought back. I also try an de-personalise my data as much as possible (Although Google is making this harder).

    We simply cant afford to run Adwords as any sort of long term strategy as we would be working for free (most of our work is in the sub 1000 market and we have don't push monthly retainers etc.. (another story for another day)) So we just don't have the ability to spend even 500 a month on Advertising. (Seriously maybe a tenth of that)

    2) There is a range of anchors used and for the dorset page (there are quite a few others) the current format is ' Web design x | Brand ', which includes our target phrase, but is not an exact match. Also for each 'location' we generally deep link. (So Witney companies go to the Witney page). For non footer links, as most are in page links (So as a really bad example, a comment on a blog), these tend not to have the search phrase in, because generally they look awful. But I have been told that that I really need to do this to reduce the proportion of links with 'Web design x' in...

    3) I take 'evidence' for multiple sources and to be honest even Google's public data is seriously flawed. So one of the best examples of this is how Adwords data is presented. So not only is it broad match figures (even when you select exact) it also includes data from non search sources and worst still its a historic weighted value. And Google Analytics is a crime against humanity... So when I'm looking at data on my site I will generally ignore GA and do analysis on the server logs, now that's slightly flawed, but at least your working with the entire usage.

    So as a very brief example (and I appreciate this is off topic now). Google will happily tell me that for instance 1000 people have visited my Dorset page in a month, of which 95% it cant tell me what they even searched for. (Because of browser or user settings), but I know a thousand have been. Flip over to the server stats and magically the thousand is either 900 or 1100 depending on how GA is feeling. When I looked into it, with the GA side it was down to technically reasons (like the script being blocked) why it was not recording data correctly or something like. So we start with an inaccurate figure and from this we can really work with 5% of the data, this means the data we do see could be completely misleading. With something like AWStats, we are not out of the woods, as although its working with 100% of the connections to the site, its flaw is that if a user is on a page for too long, it may count that as a fresh visit, but generally its closer.. And of course its harder to get the more 'sexy' stats out of AWStats, but your started from a better place (if that makes sense).

    So I really wouldn't trust any data Google gives me and in someways a world without the big G would be a much better place..

    But that aside what Im saying is that Im being told for Dorset organic searches is that a link from a local butcher (as an example) is out ranking links I have from a couple of national organisations and charities.. And its this idea I really want to explore.
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    I'll answer some points for the sake of the thread but if you want to cut to the chase just scroll to the last paragraph!

    Originally Posted by Toxitalk
    time after time they started their search 'web design x'
    Makes sense but is it still true now.

    Originally Posted by Toxitalk
    We simply cant afford to run Adwords
    I hear this alot but as Coca Cola if they could afford not to advertise and what do you think they would say? In the past years I've taken several clients who were cynical and we have created sister brands where the prices are higher to cover costs such as Adwords. Ultimately they all sold more at a higher margin.

    I don't think that is right but it is simply the world we live in. People like to be told what to buy and have more confidence in people who advertise (a false positive but don't get me started )

    Originally Posted by Toxitalk
    not only is it broad match figures (even when you select exact) it also includes data from non search sources and worst still its a historic weighted value
    It depends how you set it up but it is complex

    Originally Posted by Toxitalk
    Google's public data is seriously flawed
    I've never found this to be an issue so long as you have enough data points so at 1,000 visitors a day you should be well clear to the point that you can make educated decisions.

    Originally Posted by Toxitalk
    And its this idea I really want to explore.
    You have obviously done a great deal of indepth research on your situation. Far more than the average person who comes to a forum like this and posts. As such I doubt you are going to get an answer without a specialist looking at your site and doing full competitor analysis (expect a four figure bill for that!) because I get the feeling if it were something obvious you would have spotted it yourself.

    Personally however I see this as a red herring anyway except as an academic exercise. I suspect users have moved on from using Google to find this particular service. For example:
    - Google Trends says the search term (in the UK) died a death in 2017 (hence my comment about historical effectiveness and 'today')
    - My company, which hives out a great deal of web design work, uses Freelance platforms such as Upwork (just one possibility as to where your potential clients may be foraging these days)
    - Are you going out of fashion? If I compare your site with something like, for example, wordpress x theme its looking dated. Could it be that if your site converted better then your current rankings would keep your order books bulging anyway?

    Just for info, noticed while writing this but not magic bullets:
    - spellcheck your pages
    - no h1 tag on many pages
    - some meta descriptions contain code
    - page loading can be very slow (paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaainfully slow sometimes!)
    - URLs not descriptive
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    Thanks for your help with this. If I was to be brutal, most of the advice would be more to do with CTA than SERP's (which is the part of the equation I'm interested about). I think the annoying part for me is there is some truth in what you say, but as a comparison against my competition, mine might not be perfect, but its better technically.

    I took as decision quite a while ago to debloat as much code as possible, so although its known Google ignores <div>'s, by removing as much markup as possible you have markup with as little breaks in it as possible.

    Google did not reward me for this, it also did not reward me for removing 18 of the 20 footer links I had a while ago (in fact it depressed things slightly).

    Google also did not reward me for using semantic markup or any number of other techniques I tried.

    Now I appreciate that there is always something you can do, but with everything there might be a positive, but also a unseen negative.

    With regards to the page speed, I think you were unlucky as the landing pages. although running through WordPress are 90% static markup and when I benchmark them, they seem to come up well.

    I am also going to look to bulk it out with some additional micro format markup, but we are getting to the stage where these things, if they do make an difference, we are getting down to the minor end of things. (To me Google only trusts text it can actually see, everything else is fluff.)

    I was curious about how Google see's anchor text on the source page. I'm almost of the opinion that on the source page, anchor text is not included in its evaluation... So if you have ten links on a page which have the partial match 'web design', that is almost not evaluated for that page. This would explain why having 10 footer links with the phrase 'web design' did not cause the page to seem 'over optimised'. As when the footer links were removed, they had zero effect on the SERP for that specific landing page. (with ten instances of 'web design x' removed I would expect Google to do something with the page...)

    So this does just leave me with 'geographically local' websites and their effect on inbound links.. Thanks to everyone for their comments. It's appreciated.

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