Las Cruces

So, the Las Cruces question today relates to whether Google’s “SERPs”, or Search Engine Results Pages, give good quality results for the Query “Las Cruces”.    This post is also part of the nmohwy SEO experiment.    To determine this we’ll take the top page of results and look at each one of them.   In SEO terms this is called “scraping” a page and is usually considered bad form and even illegal in some circumstances if you do it over a large number of pages to create a new website, but in this case the scraping action has good legitimate use, especially because it’ll help me determine the most appropriate content for the Las Cruces web page at   “Most appropriate content” has become a very interesting concept as Google’s search dominance continues.   Without a high Google ranking it is very hard to get much traffic to a website so “pleasing Google” has become almost a necessary condition for the online success of a website.    Yet as Peter Norvig, head of Google search recently noted at a conference there is a huge give and take going on between Google and SEOs that is reshaping the Google results and therefore reshaping the web.   This was an inevitability of Google dominance but I think it’s a very undesirable outcome that is devaluing many of the things the web once valued highly (especially some type of very functional linking relationships that are now seen as “spamming”).

That said, it appears  Google has done a very good job for the query “Las Cruces” with one glaring exception among the top 10 sites.   I’ll discuss each below:

City of Las Cruces – Home

Home page for the beautiful city of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Rated as the best place to retire. – 35k – CachedSimilar pages 
This, Las Cruces’ official city page, makes sense as the top choice for the query “Las Cruces”.   With a simple query of the form  “city”, it’s not clear if somebody wants Las Cruces Travel Info, City info, news, real estate, etc.   However with most city queries I have reviewed Google tends to go with the official city page first, then the official visitor page second or third.   This is intuitively consistent with what I’d think a user would want from that simple query.

Las Cruces, New Mexico Convention & Visitors Bureau

Official Web Site of the Las Cruces Convention & Visitors Bureau. – 68k – CachedSimilar pages
As noted before this is a logical second page – Visitor Bureaus are usually key point of visitor contact  (smaller cities generally don’t have this function or have it wrapped up as part of the Chamber of Commerce)

Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Home Page

The chamber of commerce is a not-for-profit organization and is owned and operated by local business leaders who work to promote business growth in the – 25k – CachedSimilar pages
Again, a logical third choice for Las Cruces NM.     Chambers offer businesses in the region and also will have much visitor and relocation information.

Las Cruces, New Mexico – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Las Cruces is a city in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 74267.,_New_Mexico – 89k – CachedSimilar pages
Google *loves* Wikipedia.   This is partly for good reason as Wikipedia often has excellent features for many cites as well as millions of other topics.   Recently a university study of Britannica and Wikipedia concluded that the errors in each of these online resources were roughly equivalent, suggesting that Wikipedia, with it’s much greateer number of articles, is actually a more authoritative resource than Britannica.

Las Cruces Sun-News – HOME

Daily news, opinion, sports, arts, entertainment, lifestyle and classifieds. – 105k – CachedSimilar pages

Local Las Cruces news also appears to be an excellent site to rank highly.

Las Cruces NM New Mexico

Las Cruces New Mexico Travel, Restaurants, History, and Relocation. – 24k – CachedSimilar pages

Las Cruces, New Mexico (NM) Detailed Profile – relocation, real

Recent posts about Las Cruces, New Mexico on our local forum with over 100000 registered users. Las Cruces is mentioned 1128 times on our forum: – 120k – CachedSimilar pages

City Data is a good site that has created a huge mashup of many public domain data source, images they collect from users, and has a fairly large user forum.  This is their key Las Cruces page and probably a good choice though there are many resources that offer similar information, though I think City Data does a good job of pulling them all together in an unattractive but very usable form. 

New Mexico State University

Located in Las Cruces, New Mexico. – 18k – CachedSimilar pages

This result should probably appear higher because Universities are a key part of the community and also a key search destination for many.  However NM State Las Cruces appears to have failed to do (any?) SEO work with the site to let Google know wazzup, thus Google winds up placing them lower than otherwise.

WEBLIFEPRO.COM – 1k – CachedSimilar pages

This is the only clearly bogus result.   The page is down so this must have been some sort of marketing effort gone bad, perhaps due to manipulative SEO practices.

Las Cruces Public School District

Las Cruces, New Mexico’s Public School District. Calendars of events, board policies. Information on schools, employment, district news, assessment, – 45k – CachedSimilar pages

This at first appears to be a questionable result for the first page though it could be a result of huge incoming links from kid related sites.  People looking for an elementary school would tend to use “school” in the query.  I suppose this criticism could also apply to the University listing.   Perhaps the demographic for “Las Cruces” searchers has a good variety of ages including young kids,, making this a reasonable result.

So, it appears that for the query “Las Cruces” Google has done a good job of rounding up relevant sources of information.    Google’s strength is working with highly targeted queries so we’ll try that next for Las Cruces New Mexico related stuff.

8 thoughts on “Las Cruces

  1. Your “top ten are fine with only one glaring exception” seems to be a fair description but I think its a question of precision. Can we really tolerate that one out of ten that is a spurious return on the ‘first page’ of Google results.
    Consider an algorithm that analyzes your email and dumps some of it into your inbox and some of it into your junk box. The algorithm can’t be wrong ten percent of the time.
    A bank can’t drop ten percent of its deposits. A radar system can’t lose ten percent of its targets.

    And when that ‘one tenth’ is a real doozy that is clearly something that should not have been presented anywhere near the top of the heap, one wonders if its a sign of worse to come.

  2. I’ve reported the WEBLIFEPRO.COM Las Cruces page problem to Google. It’s been in the top 10 for months.

    No reply form Google needless to say.

  3. FG is is conspicuous that a “major” query like this that is probably done thousands of times daily would list a deleted page. I think some of these these spurious results come about in the course of calculations about how hard the algorithm is going to work on a given query to give a lot of relevant results. If, for example, Google knows that 99% of the people doing city,state queries are going to pick from the top 5 results they may determine it’s not worth the extra cost to continue working hard to list relevant results past that point. I have some inside info that suggests MS actually does this cost/benefit analysis for search queries.

  4. Art – very interesting that it’s persisted so long. With all the processing power I’d think Google would be able to remove these results almost as soon as they are reported, but clearly that does not happen. This is a good question for Brian White (who does not blog nearly enough!):

  5. Pingback: Yahoo rewriting URLs to improve indexing « Joe Duck

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