New Google Local Changes Everything

October 28th, 2010 by Paula Keller French

Google is rolling out a nationwide update that drastically changes the way prospective customers see you and your competitors through what Google calls “Place Search.”

The new integrated results combine your organic and local rankings in a new Google algorithm intended to make finding businesses easier.

Old results:

New results:

A site which ranks well organically (below the map) has always had a better chance of ranking on the map. Those who weren’t strong organically could sneak on the map provided a low level of competition.

This update hurts those businesses with strong local/maps presence and so-so organic presence. We do see, in some cases, that local prevails. A business with a strong local listing may be ranked within the organic results with just their listing data – not with any search specific information in the result.   The good news is that clients with strong local presence might get pushed up in the results.  The bad news is there is no search specific information in the result so click through might not be great.

In the past businesses in suburbs who wanted to rank for “the big city” had a hard time getting on the map. This may continue to challenge suburban based businesses with this new Google update. Those with strong organic rankings who previously ranked organically for their targeted “big city” could count on traffic from the searchers who ignored the map and went straight to find what they wanted in organic rankings. This update, though, adds an additional factor to what Google considers relevant in regards to geography, which may pose a problem for suburban-located businesses.

The new Google update stresses the importance of maintaining a strong presence in all aspects of the web.

Rest assured, it appears an extremely strong organic ranking site will remain top of page even without a strong local listing attached to it, as in this picture:

Angie’s List, a directory of service providers, remains strong despite its lack of relation to a Place Page, as seen here for Dallas House Cleaning and Austin Handyman:

New Google Local Results - Dallas House Cleaning

New Google Local Results - Austin Handyman

The new integrated results shows the importance of reviews, in particular on third party review sites such as Citysearch and Yelp by linking straight out to those sites from the main search engine results page.

As seen in many of these screen shots shared above, If your Google Place page has pictures, your position on the search engine results pages will also be more prominent.

There’s much more to be seen and discovered regarding this update. We look forward to working with our clients sites to be sure they maintain strong rankings.

For further information on the subject, check out these blogs:

Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information – from the Official Google Blog
What are the implications of the new integrated Local Search results?
– by Mike Blumenthal on Understand Google Maps & LOcal Search
5 Quick Impacts of Google’s New Local Search Results
– by Matt McGee on Small Business Search Marketing
Meet the New Google Local SERPS
– by Andrew Shotland on Local SEO Guide
New Place Search Shows Google’s Commitment to Local
– by Greg Sterling on Search Engine Land