Home Forums Local Listings (Citations) Yelp Yelp Test Part 3 – Victory is Ours: A One Box

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    Mike Blumenthal

    Previous parts to this story
    P0-Observations & Premise (read comments)
    P1-Starting to see some success
    P2- Yelp Test Part 2- Holy Crap Batman!

    Late yesterday afternoon I started seeing a two pak at the third position for dive bars Olean NY and it was clear that the desktop version of the index had caught up, showing 9 reviews on the 3rd Base Bar and Grill Yelp listing at the number 3 organic spot (just above the pak).

    However more surprising to me was that for the search term (singular) Dive Bar Olean, we had in fact achieved a Local One Box in both mobile and desktop searches on Chrome, Safari and Google Now. By this morning both the desktop and mobile searches are also now showing the one boxes on the plural Dive Bars Olean, NY.


    Yelp pushes a lot of strength internally to local listings that are receiving reviews and starts showing these more popular listings on the higher level directory pages in the city in which the listing resides as well as neighboring towns. Yelp’s internal ranking is predicated on total review count and review content.

    The speed at which the listing increased in rank at Google was astounding. They must simultaneously provide Google with updated review sitemaps

    Google indexes these deep pages from Yelp very quickly and as they are changing, often. It appears that Google hits the page at least once per week.

    The strength that Yelp pushes to the local listing is enough that Google ranks the listing at Yelp highly. We were able to get to the #3 spot within about a week.

    This high ranking Yelp listing precipitates a Google local result. Initially a 3 pak but if there is no other authoritative listing in the same ball park, then a One Pak.

    It was also astounding to me that the Local Pak was created so quickly at Google. My impression was that the Local results had a lag in relation to the index. Obviously not.

    While it isn’t technically true that Google looks to Yelp for ranking information, it does appear that Yelp’s high ranking local listing does lead to a Google Local result and pak results either just below or above the Yelp listing at Google. And that Local Pak is likely, whether above or below the Yelp listing, to grab some share of the traffic away from Yelp.

    In some ways, the One Box is acting like an “answer box” and the Yelp listing is driving the answer, in the form of a One Box, to the local query that the user is making.

    This behavior is also consistent with the earlier Google Local ranking patent that spoke in terms of the authority of Local Information sites.

    It is likely that other local sites and other industry sites can drive this same behavior and we have seen some evidence of that with listings using Avvo URLs or other directory URLs for example showing up in the pack results or One Paks post Hummingbird and Pigeon.

    That being said, it is probably a limited number of both important local sites and a limited number of vertical directories that would exhibit this behavior. My thought would be one and no more than two vertical sites per industry.

    Certainly this research does raise several other questions.
    1- How much impact does Yelp reviews and internal Yelp page authority have on a more competitive market in terms of impacting a Local Pak result?
    2- What are other local sites with similar authority? ill they function at the same speed as Yelp?
    3- Can a business website function in much the same capacity as an authority to trigger a One Box?
    4- Will more reviews at Yelp push the listing to the number 2 or 1 spots on Google? higher in Google?
    5- Does this Yelp relationship have a similar affect on other Pak results? Do 7 Pak results take longer to develop and change?

    I am sure that there are other questions as well.

    Your thoughts?

    Darren Shaw

    This is amazing research, Mike. Thanks for studying this and for sharing the results.

    I think if you Google any vertical in any city, and scan the first page for business listing sites, you’ll find the other local sites that could provide similar authority. I’ve got a half-written post on the topic. Any business listing sites on the first page of Google for your target keyphrase are critical sites to get listed on and improve your rankings on, typically by driving reviews.

    You’ve shown what a powerhouse Yelp is for affecting Google’s local results. We’re going to be giving Yelp a lot more attention for our clients.

    Mike Blumenthal


    I can’t imagine that most of these local sites have the SEO skills to push the local listing page (as opposed to the higher level summary page) or if they do that it will push so quickly…although that remains to be seen.

    I am also thinking that a combination of authoritative local site + other local listing high in the Serps would do the trick although time to live again is probably delayed.

    I would love to see some of the examples you are looking at.

    Mike Blumenthal

    Here is an interesting 1 Box.

    homes for sale fredericksburg va

    In this case it would appear that the website, the only local site to do well organically, is what is driving the Pak result.

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    Linda BuquetLinda Buquet

    Here’s another one if you want to try another test Mike.

    Google Forum post: https://productforums.google.com/d/msg/business/o2IzQxKEA1U/6Q8_Xt0CTLQJ

    He posts that he’s not ranking because a competitor has a one-box. Due to your research above, the 1st thing I checked was Yelp.

    The competitor that scored the one-box has 13 Yelp reviews and a top Yelp ranking. He has one Yelp review and so does another competitor.

    SERP: calligraphy, sacramento

    The competitor may well have other things going for her in addition to the Yelp reviews. Didn’t check or compare both sites.

    But would be interesting to see, if he got more Yelp reviews if it would break open that one-box and show a pack with him in it?

    Edited to add – I did some brief analysis and replied to that post. Nothing in detail. But per your previous example where you said it was the site that scored the one-box. Not in this case. Because the home page is flash – so her site is not helping her at all. It’s likely the G and Yelp reviews I suspect, but again didn’t do a deep dive.

    • This reply was modified 4 years, 11 months ago by Linda BuquetLinda Buquet.
    Mike Blumenthal

    Caligraphy Girl has done a masterful job of dominating the serps with
    1- a high ranking website
    2- reviews at Yelp
    3- A strong Etsy & Facebook page
    4- reviews at The Knot.

    This is an interesting case, in the reverse. However given that she has a well ranked wesbite Plus all the other stuff, I am not sure if it would do any good.

    It might. Your thoughts?

    Mike Blumenthal

    Any business listing sites on the first page of Google for your target keyphrase are critical sites to get listed on and improve your rankings on, typically by driving reviews.

    You’ve shown what a powerhouse Yelp is for affecting Google’s local results. We’re going to be giving Yelp a lot more attention for our clients.

    What seems powerful to me is any site that can drive a single location listing up to near the top of the serps.

    That is what provides the value.

    In the case of “Dive Bars Olean NY” Yelp had two of their results at the top of the SERPS but they didn’t confer anywhere as much value as having that single listing.

    It seems to me that most of the directories have a vested interest in driving traffic to the category page for the city NOT to the listing page, Here is a somewhat reprhensible example of that: https://lawyerist.com/78827/avvo-badge-website-hurting-online-marketing/

    But I think it represents a missed opportunity for most directories. I do see Ubranspoon, YP.com but am curious who else has the willingness and the technical capacity to do it?

    Mike Blumenthal


    I think that your tactics need to look beyond this test.

    Google doesn’t care if it Yelp or a local website or some other authoritative reference to the location. It just needs to be authoritative and about just that location.

    In some markets either Yelp isn’t interested or there are other contenders for the spot of authoritative local reference.

    Since most directories seem to focus their SEO on city level not location level, we need to look for other directories that do something similar to Yelp and test whether the impact is the same.

    In the example above “home for sale Fredericksburg” it is the local website that seems to trigger the One Box. And it is in real estate too boot. Part of the issue in real estate is that Trulia and Zillow and other national directories are so strong and none of them focus on single locations that Real estate is tough.

    I wonder if we can test that?

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