The image below is a screenshot of a Google search engine result page for the query, “personal injury lawyer in philadelphia.” It was performed in an incognito Chrome browser with location set to Philadelphia, PA on September 29, 2014. We have highlighted the organic results from the SERP below:
We also labeled the listings based upon their position and whether they occurred more than once. So, for example, www.myphillylawyer.com’s listing in the local pack, is labeled 1A as it is the first listing and has a corresponding listing in the traditional organic results.
For this example, we also didn’t count directories for labeling (although they are highlighted in red).
As you can see, there are a total of 17 organic listings in this SERP. However, when you filter duplicate listings and directories, there are really only 9 unique law firms listed for this query on the page.
Let’s focus on just the four domains that appear both in the local results and the traditional organic results:
For reference, here are those four domains on a map:
Each domain has a corresponding Google+ page with a Philadelphia address. All four these firms have Google+ pages that have been verified.
Interestingly, 3 out of 4 of these domains are at least arguably benefiting from partial matches to the query. In other words, keywords in the domain partially match keywords in the query.
Only 2 out of the example 4 have at least one Google+ page review.
Turning to link metrics, here is an ahrefs Domain Comparison report:
It’s important to note this comes solely from ahrefs. As such, and at the risk of stating the obvious, it is limited to data in ahref’s system. In other words, it’s very likely that it’s not a 100% accurate picture of the link metrics for these domains. Nonetheless, here are some observations on the link data that is being reported.
First, notice the reported referring domain link data. The domain www.injurylawyer.com has 1,455 reported referring domains. The next closest of these example competitors is 381. This is likely contributing to this domain’s primary positioning in the traditional organic results. Notice, however, that it’s not in the primary position in local pack results. This supports the common thinking that pack results are subject to different factors, and perhaps, an entirely different algorithm.
Second, notice that philadelphialawyerpersonalinjury.com reports only 9 referring domains, 7 of which are dofollow. Looking at those 7 we have:
And clicking-through to Secret Search Engine Labs we find:
High quality? Authoritative? Relevant? You be the judge.
Nonetheless, this domain ranks. In both the local pack results and the traditional organic results, for a rather competitive query.
On the other hand, ahrefs was able to crawl 2,679 pages on philadelphialawyerpersonalinjurylawyer.com. The next closest domain in this set was www.smbb.com with 902 pages. Perhaps this high number of pages in contributing to this domain’s visibility? If true, this would run contrary to the Panda update which, in part, is supposed to ferret-out sites that are cranking out pages for the sake of cranking out pages. However, upon review of some the top pages, the site has several pages with word counts exceeding 1,000 words and a few exceeding 2,000. Perhaps this is enough to avoid the Panda.
In any event, this example demonstrates that today’s SEO landscape isn’t quite as simple as “get links” and publish pages.
Furthermore, even when the “any link is a good link” and “content for the sake of content” thinking appears to be working, you have to ask yourself whether you’re looking for short-term of long-term results.
I can’t count the number of times we’ve seen the “it works until it doesn’t” paradigm play out. Frankly, if you make an informed decision to game Google, that’s up to you. Obviously, as the above example demonstrates, there is plenty of “stuff” that still works that really isn’t “supposed to” work. Just don’t be surprised when it stops working.
Do you monitor Philly legal SERPs? Please feel free to share insights below.
Sometimes when we do great work, we toot our own horn. This Personal Injury Case Study is one of those times.
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