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Thread: Google placement of Pubs Galore pages

  1. #1
    Administrator Dave M's Avatar
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    Default Google placement of Pubs Galore pages

    You may have guessed from my stats posts that part of my responsibilities on PuG involve monitoring how we are listed on search engines and looking at ways to try to attract more visitors. The key frustration for me which has been mentioned a number of times is that searching for a pub name on Google doesn’t place PuG highly.

    My understanding of this and what can be done to improve this can be summed up by considering on and off page factors.

    On-page factors
    Google examines all of the content on a page and decides what the page is about. For a pub page we try to emphasize the name and location of a pub. One way we may be suffering is where we have hundreds of pubs all called The Crown (many without reviews), Google may consider them all to be the same page (even though the address is different). If the pubs have a review then at least there is a lot of extra content that differentiates them out from any other pages with the same name.

    So I guess what I'm saying here is that the more pubs we have that contain reviews the better we should do. So thank you all for your incredible efforts lately to help us with that.


    Off-page factors
    The most important factor when you have a site with thousands of pages such as PuG is the weighting that Google gives to it. Google uses a system called PageRank, which counts each link to a site as being like a vote for the site. The more votes a site has the better it will perform in searches. It is worth noting that not all votes are equal, so a vote from some page I just throw up for the sake of it counts as next to nothing, whereas a link from the BBC is instant election.

    One thing that the weight of PageRank to a site determines is how many pages are going to be eligible to appear in searches. You can check what the current 'quota' of pages in Google for this site is by doing the following search http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=sit...bsgalore.co.uk. This is currently showing 18,000 for me, sadly the site has about 70,000 pages that we'd really like to be included. The upshot of this is that if your search is related to a town or county (pages higher up the site hierarchy) then we may appear but pages further down in the hierarchy (so pub pages) don't tend to appear at all (hierarchy is described in the breadcrumb shown at the top of the page, but goes homepage > Country > County > Postal Town > [outlying area] > pub).

    One problem we have with picking up new links is that if people are going to just post a link to a pub in somewhere like a forum they will probably just search Google and use the first thing to come up – in doing so they then reinforce the position of that page, it doesn’t mean they necessarily thought it was any good it was just the first thing they found. For this reason we need to go out and try to persuade people to specifically link to us.

    What we really need is links coming into the site at all levels, so some to the front page some on town pages and some to pubs pages. We have been working on this a bit this year and have been exchanging links with a number of other sites. Examples being:-
    • Forth Valley CAMRA, where we link from appropriate pages of our site and they link back to ours (Thanks Edmon and Forth Valley CAMRA)
    • Randomness Guide to London, where we cross link between some of the pubs we list in London (Thanks Kake and Randomness Guide to London)
    • Sheffield University Real Ale Society, (some good work by Andy Ven who placed a link to them on our Sheffield page and suggested they may want to link back)

    The practical upshot of the Sheffield example is that we currently rank 18th when searching for Sheffield pubs, that may not sound great but a couple of months ago we were about 120th for that search and it still seems to be slowly rising.

    You can see from this why all the other pub listing sites we know about charge you in some way to add links to their pages, it is a way of trying to sell optimisation to the pub landlords. We don’t do it because we think it is far more important to try and do the best site.

    That isn’t a very extensive explanation, so feel free to ask questions about any of it, but also if you find yourself with the opportunity to get us links from other sites please do. And thanks for all your efforts to make the site worthy of those links.

    Any suggestions also welcomed

  2. #2
    Please give generously Quinno's Avatar
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    I'll give each pub page on my Aberystwyth Pub blog a direct link to yours. Every little helps.

    Don't overtake me in the google rankings though!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinno View Post
    I'll give each pub page on my Aberystwyth Pub blog a direct link to yours. Every little helps.

    Don't overtake me in the goggle rankings though!
    Thanks Quinno, most appreciated!

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    The Beerhunter. RogerB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinno View Post
    Don't overtake me in the google rankings though!
    Isn't that a bit like Bognor Regis Town asking Manchester Utd not to score too many goals if they meet in the FA Cup?

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    Quote Originally Posted by RogerB View Post
    Isn't that a bit like Bognor Regis Town asking Manchester Utd not to score too many goals if they meet in the FA Cup?
    I wish!

  6. #6
    Please give generously Quinno's Avatar
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    In an idle lunchtime I've been banging a load of the Aberystwyth pub names into Google to see where I rank on each one. Now, I would expect them to be all very similar but this isn't the case (eg for Salt I am 2nd but for Scholars my site doesn't appear until the bottom of the second page!).

    I have no explanation as to the wild variability of this...any ideas?
    Last edited by Quinno; 01-10-2010 at 14:14. Reason: amendment

  7. #7
    Inndigestion Strongers's Avatar
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    I don't understand it either!

    Here's another question - Why do the pubs own pages usually appear in the top three search results? I'm not sure many would have other sites linking to them.
    WE ARE THE BREADMEN - UP THE BEES

  8. #8
    Administrator Dave M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinno View Post
    In an idle lunchtime I've been banging a load of the Aberystwyth pub names into Google to see where I rank on each one. Now, I would expect them to be all very similar but this isn't the case (eg for Salt I am 2nd but for Scholars my site doesn't appear until the bottom of the second page!).

    I have no explanation as to the wild variability of this...any ideas?
    I think one of the factors that comes into play is the uniqueness of a page when Google first finds it. So perhaps when you created the Salt page there weren't too many other pages out there referencing Salt and Aberystwyth together. At that point you became an authority as far as Google is concerned on that combination of keywords and so remain high in the rankings. This is the theory I have for some of our pages anyway. When Andy Ven added the Colmore Bar & Grill we were the only site anywhere with mention of it, months later and we still appear top for this search http://www.google.com/search?q=colmore+bar+and+grill

    But the general variability is just very confusing whenever I try to make sense of these things. So many things to take into account, Aberystwyth being a university city means there are lots of pages that will mention Scholar so Google might be struggling with trying to grasp context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Strongers View Post
    Here's another question - Why do the pubs own pages usually appear in the top three search results? I'm not sure many would have other sites linking to them.
    You might be surprised. For example I suggested that people linking from forums would just choose the first result they find - of course there are others who will make sure they find the correct pub page. Many pubs are owned by a PubCo that will link out to the individual pub sites, Youngs and Fullers being two that spring to mind. Also of course here at PuG we link to thousands of pubs.

  9. #9
    Please give generously Quinno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave M View Post
    I think one of the factors that comes into play is the uniqueness of a page when Google first finds it. So perhaps when you created the Salt page there weren't too many other pages out there referencing Salt and Aberystwyth together. At that point you became an authority as far as Google is concerned on that combination of keywords and so remain high in the rankings. This is the theory I have for some of our pages anyway. When Andy Ven added the Colmore Bar & Grill we were the only site anywhere with mention of it, months later and we still appear top for this search http://www.google.com/search?q=colmore+bar+and+grill
    In the context of Salt, that makes perfect sense - I was among the first to reference it on the interweb.

    Perhaps Aber Vaults (the Old Weston Vaults) will turn out the same *checks this out*

    Yes!

    http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=aber+vaults+aberystwyth&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GBfficial&client=firefox-a

    Mystery solved. Now I just need to work out how manipulate the ranking for Scholars!

  10. #10
    In Search of Ebriety Millay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave M View Post
    On-page factors
    If the pubs have a review then at least there is a lot of extra content that differentiates them out from any other pages with the same name.

    So I guess what I'm saying here is that the more pubs we have that contain reviews the better we should do.
    Does that 'extra content' extend to web links Dave? For instance, if I know a pub has a website but haven't visited to do a review is it worth adding the web link?
    I've just joined Alcoholics Anonymous - I still drink, just under a different name.

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