This is the second of a three-part series on Local Search in Google (The Centroid Battle for Las Vegas). In the first post of this series (read it again), we dissected the ‘7 pack’ of results that appeared when searching for Las Vegas hotels. Seeing who is listed in the 7 pack is easy, discovering who is not, takes a little bit more research.
Las Vegas is known for magic shows that mystify audiences (it’s also legal to drink from open containers), so how about we look behind the curtain to see how a major hotel property in Las Vegas, vanished from the 7 pack. Grab yourself a beverage and let’s head to the intersection of S. Las Vegas Blvd. and E. Flamingo Rd. at the center of the Las Vegas strip.
X marks the spot, that according to Google local search, is the center of Las Vegas. There are four massive hotel properties at this intersection (one on each corner). We have Caesars Palace, The Flamingo, Bally’s, and the Bellagio. 3 of the properties (Bally’s, Caesars, Flamingo) are owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp. The Bellagio is owned by MGM Grand Resorts International. There is also Bill’s Gambling Hall and Saloon which straddles The Flamingo (also owned by Caesars). Who’s got the edge if all of these properties are listed in the 7 pack? Let’s review that screen grab again.
While dissecting the 7-pack, something I did not highlight in the first post and marked by red rectangles, was the exact match domains to title tags for results A, B and C. Remember the 3 pack? Those are still the coveted positions in my opinion. I included who owns each property because it’s important when doing research to know that we’re not always dealing with 7 individual players jockeying for position. In this case there are 3 winners, and several unseen losers.
People oftentimes assume Google’s 7 pack results are based on proximity, but when viewing the map above, we clearly see that’s not the case. I imagine you’ve been to Las Vegas and you’ve walked the strip at least once. If results were proximal to who was physically located near the centroid we’d likely see the Bellagio Hotel, Bally’s Hotel, Imperial Palace, the Mirage, Paris Hotel (adjacent to Bally’s), and maybe even Planet Hollywood, the Palazzo, Treasure Island (TI) Hotel, and the Wynn. Yet none of those hotels are listed in the 7-pack. So, how do you make one of largest hotel properties in Las Vegas vanish?
Google suggests not having three place pages for your business, local search experts suggest not having 3 place pages for your business, and yet when searching via keyword ‘bellagio’ we see 3 different place pages for one of the largest hotel casino properties in Las Vegas. It’s like someone slipped three aces of spades into the house deck, but who?
In the first post of this series I pointed out that the Mandalay Bay Hotel was incorrectly being listed on the map location of the Bellagio (both hotels owned by MGM) and that was potentially creating a bad user experience. Looking at the screen grab above we see several potential reasons why the Bellagio is currently nonexistent in the 7 pack. To make matters worse, users are leaving reviews on all three Place pages. Will the real Bellagio place page please stand up?
Someone into conspiracy theories could suggest this is hotel ranking local search sabotage. It’s not an owner verified business listing, the address only says ‘Paradise, Nevada’, and all the photos are provided by a Google User. However, the toll-free number listed is the room reservation assistance number for the hotel. It gets worse.
Place position C looks like the real deal until we take a closer look. Again, we see the page has not been business owner verified (a red flag). However, the address is correct and the phone number listed is the Clark County local calling area code (702) for the Bellagio hotel operator, even the appropriate domain is listed. But those images are coming from a third-party hotel aggregating website, with none of the photos being business owner verified. There is a pearl of wisdom in this oyster: the Bellagio is getting screwed.
Place page position B is the real deal, and it’s marked as an owner-verified listing. The address is correct, the toll-free contact number is correct, but the images could use some improvement (more on that in part 3 of this series). Think this is all circumstantial evidence and perhaps maybe having owner verified place pages, proper phone numbers, and correct address data isn’t as important as the experts suggest? Good thing I save my screenshots, take a look at position D.
Oh, the mystery of the disappearing hotel. In part 3 of this series we’re going to look at another hotel that happens to share the same intersection as the Bellagio, along with some examples explaining why it also is a no-show in the 7-pack, hopefully providing you with a better understanding of what’s going on in the local search world.