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.)
Take-aways for Small Business
- If your business doesn’t have a website, you’ll miss out on local search now! (Get a WordPress Website here)
- 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
- AdWords will get more competitive for local businesses
- 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.
- Greg Sterling – New Place Search Shows Google’s Commitment To Local
Greg gives you a pretty thorough tour in this article and points out that Local SEO used to be all about “Getting in the 7-Pack.” Now there is a lot more to it! A fully fleshed out Place Page will take on greater importance, as will having a website that ranks well.
- Mike Blumenthal – What are the implications of the new integrated Local Search results?
Mike points out that Google is pushing their sentiment analysis to front and center now – so businesses need to be on top of what people are saying about them online!
- Matt McGee – 5 Quick Impacts of Google’s New Local Search Results
Matt says that with this change, AdWords has become more important, and more competitive for small business. He also points out that online reviews and citations are more important than ever.
- Miriam Ellis – New Integrated Google Local A Game Changer
Miriam makes the excellent observation that this change could make it harder for businesses to rank in service areas outside their home city. She also points out that this is the time to get a solid, professional website for your business if you want to rank with these new results.
- Andrew Shotland – Meet the New Google Local SERPs
- Update: I missed David Mihm’s excellent write-up on this: A New Kind of Local Search Result: The “O-Pack”?
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