Google Places – How the Results Have Changed

If you pay close attention to Google – and most people probably don’t like I do – you may have noticed some changes in the way Google displays search results. The map has moved! It used to be in the main area of the page, right below the first three sponsored listings. Now, it is in the right column, above the column of paid listings and the locations on the map? They are now mixed in with the organic results in the main area of the page:

Google's new search results screenshot

Google's new search results screenshot

What, if anything does this mean? It means different things to different users. For instance, for the average Google searcher, it probably doesn’t necessarily mean a whole lot. You’ll still see a combination of paid/sponsored results, Google Places results (the map) and organic results. But for businesses and marketers, the change in how Google displays results is more significant.

Google is clearly trying to make its Places more important by taking up more space on the first results page. By making each Places listing it’s own quasi-organic search result, Google’s Places listings now account for a lot more of the results on page one of a Google search. The many local/review sites have been taking over the first page of Google’s results for the past couple of years – Yelp, InsiderPages, MerchantCircle, DexKnows, YellowPages, etc. and it seems that Google really wants a piece of that action.

What should you do for your business? Making sure you have created and/or claimed your Google Places page is great place to start. As these results are served more often and as search becomes more local every day, you’ll want to make sure you’re listed. How will this impact traditional SEO – the jury’s still out. It is definitely a topic we will be monitoring in the coming months! Stay tuned…

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