Google Place Search – What You Need to Know

by on October 28, 2010 · 35 comments

Google is rolling out some major changes to the local search results. Gone is the “Lucky 7-Pack” and now it is being replaced with something called “Place Search“.

According to Google, Place Search is designed to organize information around places. They have clustered search results around specific locations, and things are showing up quite a bit differently than before!

I’ve read everything I could find about this, talked with my Local SEO “chumps” and experimented a bit too. Here’s my quick video take on the changes:

In case you don’t want to watch the video, here are a few impressions based on trying this out and reading through what some of the experts are saying in the articles listed below:

  • You’ll see that the local and organic listings are combined now, and apparently the algorithms for both have been merged too!
  • Organic results seem to play a bigger role in the results now.
  • AdWords plays more prominently now, and I think between this and Google Boost (simplified AdWords advertising for small business) they are making a concerted effort to get more small business owners advertising on AdWords.
  • There are a *lot* more things to click on in the search results. Now instead of getting 10 or so results, you have 30 or 40 different things to click on because the local results show references to other sites like Yelp, Citysearch, etc.
  • Local is obviously strategic to Google, and they are putting a lot of resources into this. (20%+ of searches on Google are related to location.)
Google Place Search Result - Individual Listing

Google Place Search Result

Take-aways for Small Business

  1. If your business doesn’t have a website, you’ll miss out on local search now! (Get a WordPress Website here)
  2. Web presence is more important now too – look at the clustered results above. Searchers may not click on your website, they may click on one of the other links
  3. AdWords will get more competitive for local businesses
  4. Online reviews and Citations are more important than ever now

Great resources from the Local SEO all-stars

I read through each of these excellent articles. Read these articles for their expert opinions on these changes.

Google Place Search Results Example

Google Place Search Results Example

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Don is an entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley. He founded Expand2Web and is the publisher of the Expand2Web Blog, and the GetFiveStars Customer Feedback and Reviews service.

Don has written 313 articles on Expand2Web

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

David Mihm October 28, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Don, I had forgotten Greg’s comment that “Local SEO used to be all about “Getting in the 7-Pack” and that it’s “out the window now”…I actually think that 7-pack ranking factors are still going to play a pretty big role, but business owners have to be concerned with both organic AND local factors now. But in no way do I think that purely local factors are out the window.

Your point about getting set up on a Wordpress site is well-taken! Easiest for out-of-the-box optimization.


Don Campbell October 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Agreed David. I think the take-away that Greg was getting at is some businesses were relying on 7-pack only and now that won’t cut it any more – like you said both local AND organic are required to rank in this new environment.


rob October 28, 2010 at 10:22 pm

hey don.thanks for the report. i like the new ranked number 1 when it took effect:)


Diana Ratliff October 29, 2010 at 8:47 am

OMG – I am giving a seminar on WEDNESDAY about “how to claim your Google Maps listing so you can maybe get on page 1 of Google” – at least that’s how the bank promoted it.

Now I’m completely confused!

Does this change anything about claiming your listing – which I at least halfway know how to explain to people? I don’t know how well I’ll understand all these changes by Wed. and don’t want to cancel the seminar…


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 9:31 am

Hi Diana,
No – the fundamentals haven’t changed.
It’s more important than ever to claim your listing in Google, and completely fill out your Place Page.
It’s also more important that the business have a website in addition to their Place Page, but I know you already advocate that anyway.


JakeSEO October 29, 2010 at 8:51 am

You said that you think the Google Place Search will make the paid advertising more competitive. I think the floating map on the right hand side will lead to less clicks on PPC ads because as you sroll through the searches it covers up the ads. What do you think?


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 9:37 am

Good observation JakeSEO.
I see more ads in the middle column at the top though, showing more prominently above the local listings. Maybe more small businesses will want a piece of that.


Zee Visram October 29, 2010 at 8:57 am

Hey Don,
I really appreciate that you are keeping on top of what Google is doing as well what other experts are thinking in terms of the Local Search arena. Thank you, also, that you are so willing to freely share this information with us.


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 9:39 am

You bet Zee – thanks for taking the time to say that!


Julie Gallaher October 29, 2010 at 9:07 am

Hey Don — I think they should be local search chums not chumps. ;^D


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hi Julie,
Actually, we do call each other chumps 😉


Geoffrey October 29, 2010 at 10:18 am

Hey Don,

Thanks for the great information and links to other articles. As with any change, this presents a great opportunity for those that embrace it.


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 10:38 am

Agreed Geoffrey!


john October 29, 2010 at 12:40 pm

hey don

thank you for this, it is very informative

one thing i have noticed is importance of citations / reviews

have you or others found a list of ones that impact aside say from yelp?



Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 1:40 pm

Hi John, here’s a great list of citation sources on David Mihm’s blog: The BCS for Local Search Engine Optimization, and for you Canadian friends out there (I love hockey) check out Dev Basu’s Canadian Guide to Local SEO Citations.


Reggie October 29, 2010 at 1:14 pm


Yesterday, I was in the middle of putting together a local Meetup presentation on Google Places…I mean right in the middle; when I went to make a required screen capture of a local search term, guess how surprised I was?!!!

Fortunately I have some time to regroup. Besides the necessary emphasis on optimization of Google Places listings and SEO for organic results, SMBs will now need to make use of every available traffic generation method, i.e. press releases, social media, video marketing, etc. and particularly mobile.

An additional takeaway – Google’s constant state of algorithimic flux does serve to keep those of us, who work with local businesses, on our toes if we are to be of any continued benefit to them. Many of my competitors had settled into a false “I’ve-got-the-7-box-licked-I-need-to-promote-my-own-Google-Maps-course” comfort zone. This recent round of changes certainly did a number on them. For the benefit of the struggling businesses who fork over sometimes too much for too little help…I trust the field gets a little thinner. Our businesses deserve only the committed best.


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 1:42 pm

Reggie, the ever changing dynamic of this space is what keeps me interested too!


Boyd Butler October 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm


I noticed this on Thurday night in the UK.
This is a massive game changer and I’ve seen huge
changes in local rankings after this took effect.

Adwords looks much more integrated and will be a major
revenue boost for Google. The way they have integrated the
ads looks certain to increase competition and click throughs.
(they also promote heavily the free trial at the moment via
coupons to small businesses).

The local ranking factors you mention like reviews/directories also apply to the UK and I’ll be keeping an eye on US gurus on local seo to help me
keep up with changes.

I wonder if it will have an effect on keyword domains that include
a local name i.e. Yahoo/bing love local keyword domains but
will Google love them even more now?

It’s a great opportunity for anyone that can help former top ten
organic listings get back into top ten and for Places people outside top
ten to become top ten again. Also noticed it’s Google top 12 results showing
and not just top ten now.

Thanks for the great summary. How are Expand2web users faring after this change? Are they winners or losers?


Don Campbell October 29, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Boyd – thanks, it’s good to know those factors apply in the UK too.

I’ve noticed that businesses who have been focusing on a combination of strong local listing optimization (completed and optimized Place Pages) and a solid, well optimized web site and presence have fared very well with this new change.

Fortunately that’s how we work with our clients – addressing their entire “web presence” so this has been a very positive change for them.


Diana Ratliff October 29, 2010 at 1:27 pm

I just logged into my Google Places dashboard – and every single listing is now “Rejected” for “not meeting quality guidelines.”

That happen to anyone else? Should I just wait a few days, you think, before messing with this and “fixing” something that wasn’t broken just a few days ago???


Don Campbell October 30, 2010 at 8:04 am

Hi Diana,
I’m not seeing this in the dashboard, if you want to contact me directly I’ll try to help you figure out what is going on. Also, review the Google Places Quality Guidelines and make sure the pages are not violating any of them.


Ed Slingsby October 29, 2010 at 2:35 pm

Don, Thanks for the great info. I get tons of email from all over the place but I find that you always have something to say that makes sense and helps me with my business. I would also like to get your take on the “weight” of url’s with a location in them i.e. as they relate to SE results.


john October 29, 2010 at 3:43 pm

thanks don, appreciate you getting info back to me so fast!

does anyone else, know of other international citation sources
for other countries:
new zealand
south africa


Don Campbell October 30, 2010 at 8:06 am

Thank you very much Ed!
Location keywords in the URL are good if you can get them – and they don’t make the URL too hard for people to share over the phone verbally. It is one factor that can help you in ranking for those keywords, but I’ve also seen urls rank without the keywords in the domain. So if you can get it, and it doesn’t complicate the domain name too much, then great.


Marketing-Guru October 29, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Google keeps making all these changes and it’s hard to keep up. That’s why you have to use all the available online marketing methods such as writing press release, blogging, SEO, article writing, Youtube videos, social media, facebook, craigslist, PPC, etc.


Mike LeMoine October 30, 2010 at 7:54 am

Thanks for the great info. I am so glad we have done things right with Google. Now with this change our #1 clients look even better and do not have maps listing on top of them. Yeah!

Thanks again,


[email protected] Roof Cleaning October 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

Thank GOD the local listings are gone! It was far too easy for a business to create hundreds of fake address listings with no website at all, and slip into the results, ahead of seasoned websites.


Don Campbell October 31, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Agreed Chris! This should cut down on those Google Maps Spammers.


jason evans October 31, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I just got a course on the secrets of google maps, And how to get a business on the map even if the map was full, how to get 1-boxes, etc….. it worked like a charm. Then I got my first 2 clients by sending them screenshots of the google maps results for their services and pointing out in my letter to them they didnt show up. I got them both on the map for their main keyword, and got them both a 1 box or 2 for other keywords as well. Then i was in the middle of talking to a big money client, (a dentist) …. and all of a sudden this google change took place in the middle of doing the work for this client. Before this change took place, all i had to do, was make a complete maps listing and use the proper keywords for the videos, and pictures and i could get them on the map because my listing was better optimized than the others, or even make them show up on a 1box for some of the keywords. You can tell if you can get a one box by typing in a phrase or keyword for new york or Los Angeles and if there is a map, then you can make a map show up where you are even if there wasnt one prior (1 box) if you do it right.

My question is , What do i need to do differently now, I would like a step by step guide like the one had the got me the results before the change. Im new to the game. And this change has kind of deflated me because my listing i did for the client didnt get me the results i would have, if i had done it a few days prior to the change. It happened the same day as i was making the listing. Maybe its a little early to get a guide to get rankings for the new local search. What im looking for is a step by step, how to guide , to do for each client to get them ranked on page 1. If clients need to have reviews….. how do i get them for them if they have none (can i pay for this?) … if they need citations, how do i get them (can i pay for this to be done?) ….

Sorry so long.. one more question…. If i have a client and they already have a maps listing but dont show up on page1….. should i change the name of the business to get better rankings on the map…. for instance …. “John doe DDS”…. should i change to ……. “John Doe DDS – Dentist in columbus Ohio” ??


Paul October 31, 2010 at 10:06 pm

I am seeing examples of businesses without websites appearing in the top 7 of the new local listing format eg search “crash repairs adelaide” on

I am also seeing variations of the new listing format – one variation does not include the 160 character description within each entry.


[email protected] Roof Cleaning November 1, 2010 at 4:56 am

Another thing we are noticing is being at “Centroid” Geographically don’t seem to matter anymore. We are showing up at number one 50 miles away, ahead of closer competitors.


Boyd Butler November 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

Chris, that’s a good piece of feedback.

Centroid had me thinking of Post Boxes in the middle
of each town
etc. (Even though Google doesn’t like it).

The question then is can you have more than
one website show up for different local searches
even if the businesses are registered (and referenced)
to the same address?

E.g. One business can have 10 different
keyword based websites that dominate
a local market all running out of one
address? (with slight variations in the address)


Russell Jensen December 16, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Heh… as somebody that’s totally new to the blogging world, I’m having to learn a lot rather quickly. Thanks for the info on this, got any suggestions for somebody that’s starting at the ground floor of SEO?



Christine Vilmur Cavaliero February 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Don –

I was cleaning out my inbox and found an email from a friend with a link to your blog/website. Boy I feel foolish that I didn’t read your information earlier.
As a marketing consultant I read relevant blogs about social marketing and SEO. Keep providing great information, and thanks for the 10 steps to free website traffic .

Thanks Again,
Twitter @LadyinRedonline


Digital Key Design May 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for the great information and links to other articles.


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