Yesterday, I noticed something quite major. The Google Map, powered by the Google Places pages, have commandeered organic search engine results for local searches. I noticed this while searching for listings of three of my clients. I’m checking other local searches in niches I don’t currently serve, and it seems to be true as well. I’m not just talking about the 7 pack Google Map dominating the search engine results, like it has for the last three years. I’m talking about a fundamental shift in ORGANIC results and visibility.
This could be “just a test” or Google has replaced the top three to five search results (or websites) with Google Places pages. It makes sense why THEY would want to do this (it keeps traffic in Google’s loop), but it’s somewhat of a slap in the face against the democracy of the Internet and search engines.
In some instances, the Google Places pages have taken over a specific organic listing, in others, Google is combining with the regular organic listing with the places page, showing images and a variety of reviews. These reviews Google has scrapped from other business review sites (also included in the Places page).
With the perceived importance credibility of reviews, Google most likely feels this is a better user experience. People don’t believe what companies have to say about themselves, they believe what others like them have to say about companies. Savvy marketers have known this for a long time (Check out TheCluetrain Manifesto, and Influence by Cialdini).
Try some searches of your own.
City name + Service Oriented phase
Service Oriented phase + City name
Google Places is now THE indexed listing for local searches not only on the map, but in the ORGANIC listings. The map has been shifted to the side, and the Google Places pages are becoming the ACTUAL listings.
This also changes the game for search-based pay-per-click. The Google Map, which has traditionally dominated the results for city-based searches for the last few years, has been pushed to the upper right side. The upper right is where positions 4-6 would normally sit. When the users scrolls down the results, the map moves with him/her, covering up those positions.
Update: As of today (Oct. 30th), the map is now static in the 4-6 spot. I’m sure Google got a few calls on that one.
Fortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time making sure my clients had well-optimized, Google Places pages. I feel sorry for those who have not paid much attention to the Google Places/Local Map Listings and only on their organic website listing.
This maybe just a test, or it may be permanent.
I saw the way things were moving a few years ago and wrote a post on a company blog I used to work. The techniques for OPTIMIZING your listing and dominating the results still remain true today: Seven Ways to Raise Your Local Business Listing Rank in Google
If you haven’t optimized your Google Places listing, it would be a good idea to do it NOW. If you don’t know how to optimize it, find someone who can!
If you want to know the BACKDOOR to winning on Google Places check out this post I wrote awhile back, when Google Places was called “Google Local Business Listings.” The Ten Pack is now the Seven Pack, but based on what’s just happened, it may also become the top ten organic search results.
There is a HUGE window of opportunity for organic placement via Google Places. Don’t miss out.
For almost five years, Dallas Internet Marketing Consultant Neil Lemons has worked behind-the-scenes to help create exposure, traffic, leads, and sales through major search engines like Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. Calling upon his diverse background in copywriting, advertising, marketing, and sales, he has been learning traditional SEO and SEM tactics since 2004 and implementing since 2005.