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Yelp Local Listings Are Polluting Google

Yelp Local Listings Are Polluting Google

Yelp Local Listings Are Polluting Google

As our previous posts suggests, exact match domains are A local SEO nightmare.  However, as the post alludes, there is a bigger, badder animal lurking in local search. While exact match domains have bite but no teeth, local yelp results are terrorizing the local queries for blue caller services!

google local search

But why does Yelp rank so well on Google local search?

To answer this question, we have compiled thoughts and speculations from across the web.

According to Review Helper:

We’ve read that more the 50 percent of Yelp’s traffic comes from Google. (Just so you know, Google doesn’t have any special relationship with Yelp—in fact, Yelp spurned Google years ago and Google competes against Yelp.) Google’s search algorithm places such high value on Yelp’s content because of Yelp’s verification process and its tough review filter. In other words, Google trusts Yelp’s content. 

This is purely speculative, but we also believe that Google’s determination to rank Yelp high and keep it there may be due, in part, to all these reputation management companies that brag in the media and on their websites about manipulating Google’s search results. Studying Google for many years, we know that publicizing such claims would be just the kind of thing to motivate Google to take action. (Review Helper)

According to, Marc Z, on SEO Roundtable:

If you look at the auto search as you are typing that keyword, the second keyword (LSI) that according to Google, is heavily searched, would be “haircut santa monica yelp”. They are providing results off what is commonly searched when users search for “haircut santa monica”.

I do agree that too many local directories are showing up in search results and that this individual search is odd. But obviously someone has been searching “haircut santa monica yelp” many many many times.

According to, Jeff Ferguson, CEO and Founder of Fang Digital:

Because they provide locally targeted content on a properly built site that naturally attracts links.

No real magic involved with these guys… they’re purely in the business of providing local content and Google eats that up.

You can always roll SEO up into three big categories: Content, Site Architecture, and Inbound Links… even “local SEO.” Sites are supposed to have content on a properly built site and if they pull that off, they end up getting linked to by other sites.

Yelp provides local content in the form of business information, reviews, and other helpful information on a well-built site, and people love linking to them, especially the very businesses that they are advertising.

I know everyone wants SEO to be some sort of trick or “hack” or whatever, but when it comes down to it, the sites that truly own their segment on Google do so because they are awesome at their business.

Our Take On Why the Google Local Query is Broken

Most local business websites have not been search engine optimized for a post Penguin era. Times have changed, the days of buying links and stuffing your website with keywords are dead and gone (Yes,I know. I sound like a broken SEO record.) Because there is a lack of local businesses with correctly optimized websites, authoritative directories such as Yelp run rampant. Yelp can be conquered; however, you must have all the pieces for the puzzle.

MIDDLE Pieces for the Local SEO Puzzle:

  • Unique content – If your business operates in multiple cities, you can not just create a template for your landing page for each city and just change the name of the city…if only it were that easy. Do your research and find content gaps. 
  • Reviews on Local Directories – Google loves the popular kids. If you want to rank higher on Google or even within the local directories it is important to generate reviews for your company. Here is a great tool for that!

CORNER Pieces for the Local SEO Puzzle:

  • Local Listings – Make sure your business is on all the local directories. Not sure how many there are out there? Well, there are alot. Here is a tool that will grade your local SEO. Here is a tool that will let you know what directories you are missing out on.
  • NAP – I will take away the confusion. It is this simple: N=Name, A=Address, P=Phone. Make sure that your NAP is the same every time your business is mentioned online.
  •  Google Places (verified) – It seems obvious, but make sure you claim and verify your Google Places account. And, if you don’t have one…add it to your list of things to do ASAP.
  • Sitemap – Pretty basic SEO; however, local businesses are often missing this essential piece to the puzzle.

Remember, ranking locally is not going to be easy, especially when you have Yelp waving it’s authoritative fist. If, however, you are purposeful you can reap the benefits of total local domination! As always, we would love to hear your take on why Yelp local listings are polluting Google.

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  • Dave

    “Unique content – If your business operates in multiple cities, you can not just create a template for your landing page for each city and just change the name of the city…if only it were that easy.”

    I know for a fact that this isn’t true at all, i have thousand of pages with 99% same content ranking for years now, sorry but you really have no clue of what you’re talking about.

    Yelp ranks so good because it is paying Google for these ranks, nothing more, nothing less, next time get your facts strait before you spew the Google propaganda. Just saying


    • Hi Dave!

      That’s an interesting point you bring up. I would be curious to see how Google is being paid off by Yelp. Google is the same company that will penalize their own Browser: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/04/google-demotes-chrome-in-_n_1184734.html.

      Regardless, it is always a SEO best practice to deliver a unique visitor experience. While I could perceive your sites ranking well with your method, I would challenge the template model of SEO ranking well even in future months as Google is becoming more sophisticated every day.

      Lastly, more information would be needed to properly understand your models ability to “fool” Google. For example, how competitive is your term? Are you in Montana selling poached Duck? If this were the case, I could logically seeing you being able to rank.

      The same might not be said for a more competitive term in a more competitive market.

      Yours in Marketing,
      Garrett Mehrguth