How Local Search Changes Everything

Location-Based “Google Places” More Prominent in Search

Everyone is familiar with the “old” formatting of search engine result pages (SERPs) which usually appeared in select circumstances when a geo-location was entered (i.e. santa clara ca hotel), where there was anywhere from one to seven local results accompanied by the local map. However, beginning the end of last month, Google has now revamped their algorithm to place greater emphasis on local results, as evidenced by the (currently) seven new SERP formats.

As found on, these new formats range from the relatively familiar “7 Pack” of local results followed by 10 organic listings below to the aptly-named “Death to Directories”, which features only local listings above the fold and leaves only 6 organic results below.

7 Pack local results with the map in the upper-right corner.

7 Pack local results with the map in the upper-right corner.

Pack "sandwiched" between 3-5 organic listings

7 Pack "sandwiched" between 3-5 organic listings

"Death to Directories" - only local results displayed above the scroll

"Death to Directories" - only local results displayed above the scroll

At this point, users can expect Google to be testing each of these seven formats to determine how users interact and respond to each of the formats.  Perhaps in time some of these formats will be removed and others might emerge, but it very clear that creating a Google Places profile is critical to being found for location-specific searches.

To start a successful local account, a local business should:

  1. Claim the local business listing through Google Places by mail or phone
  2. Make sure the listing appears on relevant local directories (i.e., kudzu, citysearch, etc.)
  3. Ensure the business information is correct on Google Places, using the physical address, accurate business categories, website URL, correct marker location in the map, etc.
  4. Use RDF microformats tags to clearly identify the business information to Google Places
  5. Work at driving customers to local directories like Yelp or Kudzu to leave reviews on the business

As a result of these changes, many local businesses will benefit by the increased exposure of having local appear more prominently over what has typically been an organic-dominated search engine results page.  Another implication is the greater importance Google is placing on the optimization of local profiles and especially the quantity of reviews left online.  By aggregating information from across the web, it is critical that businesses pay greater attention to having consistent information displayed across the web and that they remain proactive in responding to reviews left with third-party sites.


Contributed by Jonas Pauliukonis, Milestone Internet Marketing

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