Big changes announced to Google local search results

Those boffins over at Google are busy at the moment!
Sometimes you can’t help wishing they would just slow down for a while, instead of moving the goalposts so often…
The Google Blog has today announced Place Search – “a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go”.
In short, instead of those big maps clogging up a big part of the top of the page, it looks like the maps are now going to be displayed on the right hand side of Google’s results pages instead.
And in the middle of the page, where the maps once were, there are now listings relating to the maps on the right.
I’ll illustrate with a term close to my heart – “hairdresser Luton”. As you can see it’s a pretty radical difference.
Google search results pages
What does this mean for us?
It’s very early to say, but the impact on local search traffic could be substantial. In preliminary tests, we’ve seen some searches changed radically, like this one, and other local searches less impacted, with just a part of the page transformed.
One of Google’s aims is to increase usability in local search by giving searchers a longer list of relevant options faster, so that searchers don’t need to make repeated searches. In results like “hairdresser Luton”, that reduces the importance of the old #1 ranking, and the traffic that #1 ranked sites were enjoying before. So we may see some sites with noticeable traffic losses, while others feel a traffic bump as their pages are listed more prominently…
Watch closely for reports of the impact over the next few days…!

The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
  1. I have been watching this for the last few days and currently rankings are changing quite dramatically. Hopefully things will settle down soon.
    I think it may have quite an effect on review websites such as Tripadvisor. The new style merges Google places more into the organic search results and provides a nice overview for prospective guests.

  2. Over the last 2 days I’ve seen 3 different layouts of the local results so I expect this to be the first iteration of several. One interesting aspect to it is the fact that adwords positions 4 and below are pushed quite a way down the page which may harm both advertisers and revenues.
    Also, the organic results are really buried so a maps listing may actually become more important than organic for search terms that throw up a map.

  3. I think it depends on what local companies have been doing with Google Places and Local before that. We’ve been advising clients for a long time now to have a complete a listing as possible, get reviews and get 3rd party reviews. If they’ve been doing that, then they should be well be placed (no pun intended) with the new changes.

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