Recently, a friend of mine who works in SEO called to pick my brain about why a particular business wasn’t showing up well online. The business, a Family Dollar Store franchise in Albuquerque, received an 8% customer reach score.
When he searched on Google for “dollar store” in Albuquerque, the business did not show up on the first results page. The business also did not appear for the following relevant keywords that their competitors did:
To better understand why this franchise had a low visibility, we compared them to another franchise – in the same city – that did appear on the first page of Google.
This second Family Dollar Store ranked much higher, receiving a customer reach score of 58%. They came up for many of the same keywords as their competitors:
And they appear on many relevant sites:
Given that these are two out of 23 Family Dollar Store franchises in Albuquerque (not to mention the dozens of other local dollar stores), what was making one more visible than another?
So we started looking for the usual suspects.
- Does the higher-ranking business have a more relevant name? No, all the franchises have the exact same name.
- Does the business have a better optimized website? No, they all share the exact same website.
- Does the business have better products or services? No, they all sell the same products for a dollar.
- Does the business have more online citations? No – in fact the low-ranking business has more online citations than the higher-ranking business.
Faced with this puzzle, I couldn’t help but think that there’s always a way to differentiate seemingly identical entities:
This is a problem many franchises face. When you’re selling the same product, with the same name, same website, in the same city, and with dozens of competitors, how can you stand out from the rest?
As we were trying to understand this discrepancy, sitting in front of a Google maps of New Mexico, it dawned on us -
Location, location, location. The business that scored 58% is 1.5 miles from what Google considers the city center and the business that scored 8% is 7 miles away. As Matt McGee reported, proximity of address to city centroid is the twelfth most important factor in one’s online visibility ranking.
What do you think – is that the whole story, or is there more to this picture?
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.