The search landscape was changed again recently, as Google Local Search queries got a dramatic overhaul. Opinions are mixed; Google Local has been a powerful tool for both Google and the consumer, but with this recent change, the display seems to be changing depending on things like query, location, etc. The new display isn’t visible at all unless a link is used to get started. This is a quick look at what impact this could have on Google Local search results.
Adwords is now more important. Google Maps now appear in the right column, where paid ads are traditionally located. The ads are now bumped down the page. Google will likely compensate by showing more paid smack dab in the middle, right above the Google Local listings. These ads will likely become even more prominent in Google Instant Search.
Because Adwords is now more important, it is now more competitive. There are ads everywhere; this is expected. Google Maps is already heavily inundated with Adwords, each location search featuring an ad conveniently located next to the map. Now that the display of the local searches has changed, local businesses, catching onto the new trend, can and should respond by spending even more of their advertising budget to show up in the new front and center AdWords display. Google Local Searches are poised to make a killing for the company.
With this new display, the power of the individual review is gaining new ground. Not only is the number of reviews on Google displaying prominently, but the reviews of a variety of third-party sites, such as Yelp, Insider Pages, etc., are heavily featured. The same trend is cropping up on Google Maps, where advertising is getting smarter depending on where your search is localized.
The Place Page has now become more important than ever. This new display basically takes the old, existing Place Page and offers a mini, easily digestible version of it if the user gets simply by performing a Google Local Search.
An example: if you search for “seattle theaters” you get the regular title and snippet listing, then branching out from the Place Page you get a photo, address, phone information, the handy Google Maps link, a top review excerpt, links to additional reviews, star ratings, overall review count, and link to the Place Page. And if you look up directions the old fashioned way, via Google Maps, a similar linking system gets you back to ground zero.
Google specifically states they are no longer two separate algorithms. This implies then that traditional SEO factors will more heavily be influencing who shows up for Google Local searches, as well as what kinds of ads you’ll see from Google Maps, as Google applies the local data to create future search results.
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