Google Places Page Redesign — Local Search Goes Minimalist
November 1st, 2011 by
Hot on the heels of big redesigns to a whole suite of Google services, including Docs, Reader and Gmail, searchers will soon see shakeups in the way local listings are displayed on their results pages. Instead of the familiar red pin of Google Maps, searchers looking for businesses matching a given term such as breast augmentation Maryland will now be greeted with a row of grey icons which can be expanded with a click to show a highlighted popout with site preview, map and reviews:
This is a noteworthy move for Google Local, given the powerful results that the “red pin” logo has attained over the last few years. The mini-Place Page embedded within search results seems to agree with the growing shift toward minimalism the company has encouraged in its recent redesigns, such as the sleek-and-clean new Google Reader. Additionally, the new system serves an important purpose in helping searchers find the things they’re looking for (location, directions, reviews, pictures and details, et cetera) without actually leaving the SERPs. Google is also making it easier on its searchers to review and edit local places listings by placing a feedback link (visible in the second, expanded screenshot) directly in the foldout, thus helping prevent problems like the infamous potential to mess with competitor’s listings via maliciously reporting a business as “closed.” With this error seemingly remedied or at least remediated, it will be interesting to see if other Google bugs such as the appearance of potentially inappropriate photos on Place pages will be given attention as well.
Given the increased power of many browsers and the capability offered by new tools such as HTML5, it’s clear that most users’ browsing capabilities can handle the change — but is it an innovative way to get the data you need without having to trawl through multiple unique pages, or a confusing overload of information? What do you think?
One of the many things I find interesting about this is the fact that the initial map view is now much slimmer vertically, potentially, bringing more focus to the ads in the right margin.
To me, the change of the color of the pin in the Adwords Express Ads is most significant. While many changes seem to draw attention to paid ads (which you would expect), the color change to the Adwords Express Ads appears to wash them out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those pins change color again…
Thanks for dropping by, Gyi! I completely agree, and am actually rather surprised I didn’t notice the issue myself. While the regular listings may be relegated to their new grey status, I imagine that the Adwords Express customers who are paying a good bit of money to appear where they do won’t be too happy with the change. Perhaps we’ll see the introduction of a third color, or a return to the iconic red pin for Express listings only?
Oh, Google! You give us a just a year with the blended results, and then introduce something new within a week of the anniversary of the official roll out.
Guess that test didn’t work out so well. Hopefully this one will be better.
I’m really surprised at the zoom level on the new panoramic-style maps. For big cities like NYC or Chicago, the zoom level is so far out that the pin placement is meaningless. They all overlap. When you layer on 3-5 paid ads on top of the first 7 pins, the map is a mess. I doubt this will be around long at least I hope not.
The clutter in the new layout is definitely an issue, it’s true; just go to Google and search for “contact lenses” with or without any kind of geographic modifier to see an example of the disastrously distracting barrage of information. The map issue you mention is another symptom of that, and is a severe negative impact on the basic functionality as well. I’m not sure how Google will go about fixing this, as the ads have presumably been sold already — do you think we’ll see another restructuring in the near future, or will consumers be content to shoulder through all the noise?
Thanks for dropping by, Andrea!