Google Rolls Out New Place Search

At the end of October, Google introduced Place Search, a dramatic, new way to display local search results. This change is likely to have a significant impact on local SEO. Instead, the new Place Search makes Place Pages, profiles for local businesses that display basic information such as address and telephone number as well as both Google and third-party reviews, significantly more prominent in search engine results.

Before, when users conducted a Google search for a place, local search results were displayed in a “7-pack” or seven basic listings for area businesses that matched the inquiry. The locations of these listings were indicated on a Google Map at the top of search results, like so:

Now, when users search for a keyword that Google's algorithm detects as a regional keyword, Google automatically switches to Places search. In Places search, Google displays local results, which are tagged with a red push pin. Each local search result shows the location's basic identifying information, including street address, phone number and official website, with related results from third-party websites clustered beneath. For example, here are the results you get when you search for “personal injury lawyer san diego ca” today.

Here's a closer look at how an individual place displays in results:

The new Place search listings are more detailed than their 7-pack equivalents, displaying addresses, ratings, links to Google and third-party website reviews and more.

If it's not clear whether or not the user is searching for places, Google will display a mix of local and regular web results. For example, a search for the ambiguous term “desert” from a computer with a Phoenix IP address displays this screen:

The results displayed are a combination of Place pages indicated with a red pushpin and regular web results such as the Wikipedia entry for desert and a web page about desert biodomes.

This change in displaying local SERPs will likely lead to major shift in how businesses market to nearby customers online. Previously, the focus was on landing in the 7-Pack. With the new Place Search, the focus is liable to shift to building fully fleshed out Place Pages as well as links from third-party websites such as Yelp, Citysearch, Insiderpages, Urbanspoon, TripAdvisor, Yahoo Local and Judysbook that will be clustered in results.

Currently, Place Search can only be accessed on desktop computers but will become available on mobile devices in the near future.

As this change was implemented recently, there are likely to be more developments in the coming months. CyberMark will research these changes and their effects to help you revise your local SEO strategy for the best possible outcome. Please contact us today to discuss how we can optimize your business online for Place Search.

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