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Place Search – Google Changes the Game of Local Search

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The Local Search Results Page See’s Dramatic Changes with Places Search!

Wow, Google completely changed the local search game yet again. This should really come as no surprise to those who follow Google closely. My earlier blog post spoke about the importance of not putting all your eggs into one basket when it comes to Google places. So many businesses have been neglecting to optimize their natural organic rankings, instead placing a total emphasis on only optimizing their Google Places listing. In the local search world we call this “mapism”. This is going to come as a complete shock to many who have been benefiting from first page exposure do to their local listing, as well as a those those who relied on Pay per Click for first page traffic.

This full scale change by Google effectively puts an end to “mapism”. Those local businesses who only optimized to get into the 7 pack have to change tactics. Now, the local and general search algorithms have been combined (now called Places Search or Places Mode ) to generate listings based on results from both.

Is this the end for Google Places?

Actually, it’s quite the opposite. Data from Google Places is incorporated into the new Places Search algorithm. So in order to rank well for the natural search results you must also have a well ranking, complete Google Places profile. The most dramatic impact is seen in the paid ads or Adwords listings. These have been completely booted from page 1 and we’ll have to wait and see where they end up (if they end up anywhere at all).

If anything, it’s more important than ever to rank well for Google Places. Doing so, as well as optimizing your natural listing will give the local business double the exposure then they would for ranking well in places alone.

So what did they Change?

The most obvious change is that the “7 pack” is now gone. Google has moved the Map that once appeared at the top of the listings over right hand side of the page where the paid ads used to appear. The Adwords ads have been completely removed from the local search page (this has huge implications) and Google Places listings now appear in their place below the map, off to the right hand side. This moves the organic listings back into prime locations on the Google SERP heatmap. The organic listings now are larger and have more information, containing reviews and other data populated from Google Places listings.

Third party sites or “citations” are listed in the natural listing along with other places info such as reviews, phone number and other info.

Before Place Search

before place search

Courtesy of Searchengineland.com

After Place Search Change

after place search

Courtesy of Searchengineland.com

This is a dramatic move by Google to boost the value of Google Places and a serious commitment to local search.

Who loses?

Vertical directories that used to rely on Google for traffic seem to be gone from page 1. By removing these directories and replacing them with local listings, they lose nearly any value they had. These directories will quickly fall by the way side.

Pay per click advertisers will find a serious drop off in their traffic as well. No more page 1 means that they’ll have use their Adwords dollars to optimize in order to be page 1 now. Having a well done, converting website will also be extremely important as the natural algorithm takes this into account

So what this all mean?

The key to take away from this change is that local search is now more important than ever. Those who have not been optimizing locally need to start right away. It will take some getting used to, but the changes will mean better search results and more people depending on this form of search for their results.

By making Google Places more prominent, search users will depend more on local queries and those optimized for local search will benefit significantly. The volume of searches with those using local queries will increase and the entire local search platform will benefit.

Stay tuned, more to come….

119 Comments

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July 30, 2014

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August 22, 2014

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August 23, 2014

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August 23, 2014

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August 23, 2014

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August 23, 2014

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Place Search – Google Changes the Game of Local Search