It seems Google’s Caffeine update includes some significant alterations in their local search organic ranking algorithm.

I whipped up this screenshot side-by-side comparison for you to see the differences between the Caffeine Sandbox on the term “Vancouver car sales” and the current live Google results for the same term. Please note that if you click on the image you will be taken to a MUCH larger version without the mark-up so you can see the results more clearly.

  • Oddly the results showed that the current local ten pack are unaffected by the changes – at the moment.
  • Note that I did a number of similar regional searches with the same altered organic results – this appears to be a constant.

Google Caffeine Sandbox Results vs Regular Google on a Local Search

Unfortunately, I do not know at this time what ranking factor has changed to create such an alteration but hopefully this will prompt more people in our great industry to delve into the matter. I will let you know if I discover anything more.

What is your educated guess on the ranking factors at play here? If I had to guess I would say that local search citations, which play a significant role in rankings, are being counted differently based on stricter criteria. I know that is a vague statement but perhaps that will set off an idea or two for someone smarter than myself in the realm of local search.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
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