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What Does Google’s New Place Results Mean for Your Business?

Noticed anything different about Google search results lately?  On Wednesday, Google announced the launch of Place Search which it calls “a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places.”

Prior to the launch of Place Search, a Google search for “scooters Dallas” delivered results that included sponsored links,  the “Onebox” (also referred to as the “10 pack”) of local results with the corresponding map, followed by the top 10 organic results.

Google Search Results Page

Search for "scooters Dallas" from 2009

Below: The same search done today delivers very different results:

Google search results for "scooters Dallas"

Current search for "scooters Dallas" displays Local Map on the left hand side of the page and includes Place Results in the organic results.

The Google map featuring local businesses now appears on the right hand side of the page (previously the sole dominion of sponsored results) and remains on the screen at all times. If you scroll down the page, the map appears in the same position in your browser and moves over the sponsored ads as you go.

Depending on the search query, individual local results now populate a good portion of the “organic” results and include a profile image, a link to the Web site, the business address and phone number, and links to reviews from a variety of sources including online directories.  Some also feature an overall rating based on a 5 star rating system and links to user generated videos as shown in this example:

Detail of Local Result.

Google's new Local Results are eye-catching and informative.

If you haven’t already claimed your local business listing and optimized it, now is the time to do it. Here are some considerations to keep in mind as you undertake the process.

Verify Your Location

Links from directories and other local businesses help validate your location and improve your relevance for local searches. You should list your business wtih as many of these sites as possible.

Caution: Your Reputation is Showing

By including links to reviews in the new local listings, Place Search has taken the importance of reputation management to an all-time high. In addition to links to reviews, some local results also include a snippet from an actual review as shown below:

Reveiw snippet from Goolge Place Result

Fortunately for this restaurant, Google features a snippet from a positive review scraped from Citysearch.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Since local results include thumbnail images, you should give some serious thought to the images you upload to your local business listing. Images with a lot of fine detail will not translate well as thumbnails, and users are far more likely to be drawn to images of your products than images of your storefront.

mexican restuarant images

Image "F", on the left, tells you nothing about this Mexican restaurant. Image "E", on the right, is much more appealing but fails to take advantage of the entire image frame.

For many small to medium sized businesses, the prospect of optimizing and monitoring their local listings will be an overwhelming drain on their time and manpower. For them, now may be a good time to contact a local SEO / SEM firm to discuss their needs. With the increasing emphasis on local search, more and more SEO / SEM firms now offer local search optimization services designed to help these smaller enterprises compete on the local level.

We would love to hear your thoughts on Google’s new Place Results. Please post a comment below.

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