Google Places Page Redesign — Local Search Goes Minimalist

November 1st, 2011 by Search Influence Alumni

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:

Google Places results page when no selection is highlighted.

Results page with mini-Place page expanded.

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?