ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW GOOGLE PLACES LAYOUT
Google have this week made some major changes to the way they show results for ‘local searches’. I’ve started to see the new format results today and I believe they will have a big impact on local businesses.
Firstly, and most obviously, Google have completely removed the seven pin map box that we’ve grown to know and love. However, the new layout offers smart local businesses much greater prominence in the search results than before – providing that you have a strong Google Places listing (more below) and good basic SEO techniques in operation on your site.
In a nutshell here are the changes.
1. As I’ve already said, the map which was in the center of the screen is now in the right hand column.
2. Instead of a map box containing just 7 local listings we now see the local listings merged within the main search results. I’m sure Google have done it this way to make it easier for visitors to digest and compare the different listings – and I think it works well. But it doesn’t stop there…
3. …within these new ‘merged’ listings the average star rating from reviews and the number of reviews is also shown. These reviews come from lots of third party sites – not just Google – and visitors can click on these ratings to be taken to the local listings landing page for that business.
4. Underneath the listing it’s really easy and quick to access the business contact details (this bit is pretty similar to how it was before)
5. Image are being shown for those business which have added photos to their listings. These are quite eye catching within the results and will undoubtedly improve the ‘click-throughs’ for businesses that have taken the time to add photo’s. So make sure you have!
The local listings still only appear on the first page of results. It looks like Page 2 onwards only displays the normal organic results.
One other new feature is that on the left hand side of the page there’s a new option to search only ‘Places’ listings. This immediately turns all your search results into ‘local’ results which is quite neat and could catch on as people become more aware of it.
What all this means, in a nutshell, is that having your business properly listed with Google Places in now more important than ever. Local listings that are driven by ‘Places’ and the local ranking algorythm appear to be much more prominent and they are pushing organic rankings further down the page.
This is good news for local businesses. With a fully completed Places listing (it’s really important that your listing shows as 100% complete when you do it) it’s even more likely that visitors will click on you from that first page – providing you’re there!
To get the official line on what’s happening here as well as lots of useful guidance and instructions, visit the Google Places ‘Help for Business Owners’ page