As of this morning Google have updated their Google Places format for local search results, what does this mean for your internet marketing?

The most significant change that Google have made to local business results is the move of the map to the right hand side and associated expansion of the local result details to bring them in line with other natural results in the main results list.

So what are the implications of this change on the presence of results on the first page and the user search experience?

  • Local results are now taking up more space at the top of the first page. In fact in some cases, with the exception of sponsored links, they will now comprise all of the results above the fold!
  • The map having moved to the right has displaced the additional sponsored links down the page reducing their prominence and potentially forcing advertisers to bid more for the top positions
  • Depending on the number of results much more of the Google places information is now being displayed in the results, providing more insight for the user to help them select the most relevant result.

The effect of these changes is likely to be that more in-store and on-line traffic will be accessible to businesses that have well optimised Google places listings and that traditional SEO for local results will be less effective.

Optimising your Place Page details

The additional information compared to the previous results format now being presented on the local results includes:

  1. The description of the business
    2. A link indicating the number of reviews that place page has

Obviously for internet marketers this will impact the important of optimising the description and encouraging and maintaining reviews. Notably the recent addition of a facility to respond to reviews for business owners make even more sense in the context of the prominence of this link in results.