Restructured, Renamed Google Local Brings New Features, Problems for Local Businesses

Google PlacesAs we discussed in an earlier blog, last month Google officially launched a revamped and renamed version of Google Local, a localized search feature that displays search results within Google Maps when local search terms are applied. Now named Google Places, the newly monikered site offers plenty of new features. These features include the ability to designate service areas (great for businesses that serve a local area but operate without a storefront) and tags, a listing enhancement that allows local businesses to highlight additional information about their business such as coupons and special offers for a small monthly fee. Adding these features to your listing won't affect placement within search results; but they can help your listing stand out among other listings, which can attract more local customers.

However, along with a new name and features, Google Local also underwent a considerable structural change. Google significantly reduced the amount of local listings displayed in Google Maps from 10 to, in some areas, as little as 3 or 4. Also, several businesses noticed a drop in rank for some keywords, and some businesses were dropped altogether.

In the changeover, Google intensified its local search algorithm to filter out potential spammers from the system. As a result, many legitimate listings were dropped because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Improper listing setup
  • Duplicate verified listings
  • Multiple Google accounts listed for the same phone number
  • Multiple locations listed under a centralized phone number

At CyberMark, we consider Google Places an important promotional tool for regional businesses. The Internet is the most-used resource by consumers to research products and services, and as of March 2010, more than 70 percent of all searches are conducted on Google. A well-placed local listing on the world's most used search engine is crucial for local businesses in drawing in new customers. If your local listing has lost rank or been dropped, we can help you resubmit your listing successfully in order to recapture your visibility among potential local customers.

In some ways, the Google local search algorithm still works the same as before the switchover. The algorithm still favors businesses with profiles that are filled out as completely as possible with an official business website, pictures and/or videos and customer reviews. You can achieve a higher ranking with your listing by making sure it is as filled out as possible and encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive reviews. We can assist you in carrying out these tactics as well as suggest even more strategies for getting more local exposure for your business.

If you've noticed a change in your Google Places listing, please contact us. Currently, we're going through each one of our clients' Google local listings to check for missing, deleted or otherwise affected listings. We are happy to help you regain the valuable exposure your Google local listing can provide.

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