I have been setting up Google Places listings (previously known as Local Business Center listings) for clients since they started to appear in search results, but now it is even more important to make sure you have a listing and that it is optimised for best results in search engines as yesterday Google announced a significant change to the way it will present results for Local Searches: Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information.
Google Places listings are the ones when you see the Google Map for a region at the top of a search with links on the right to relevant Google Places listings. When Google started placing this above the organic listings, SEOs and website owners started to make their Google Places listings a priority as we all started thinking about Universal and Blended Search — image, video, blog, news, etc. searches became an important factor too. See Search Engine Land’s post from 2008: http://searchengineland.com/blended-search-a-year-later-13736
New Google Place Search
With the new Google Place Search the map will show at the top of the right sidebar above AdWords results and the links to relevant Google Places listings will be listed above the organic results.
“The new results are marked with red pins, and each one is a unique restaurant with relevant information and links from across the web.” said Google regarding it’s example post for ‘Austin bar-b-que’
My Main Question on Google Place Search
Does this mean that if there is a number of relevant Google Places searches for your topic and you don’t have a good listing yourself, results for your page will be well below, even though your page ranked highest before?
Or will the results be ‘blended’ in with the organic results, i.e. in the same organic position the page would get but also showing information from the Places listing and the lovely red placemarker?
Google Place Search and Adwords
There will be another issue for Google AdWords advertisers, as the listings in the right sidebar are now pushed down and may be less effective. In an example I took, there were still two AdWords listings at the top of the center of the page – above the Places listings and then the organic listings.
Will users be able to ‘switch off’ this layout? It doesn’t appear so. “Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you’re looking for local information. In addition, you’ll find a new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want.”
Get Best Results or Local Searches with Google Place Search
If local searches are important to your business, and it’s hard to think of many businesses were it isn’t, what do you need to do to ensure best results for your business through Google Search results?
- If you don’t have a Google Places Listing, sign up at Google.com/Places.
- If you haven’t set up a listing yourself but have one, or several, listings generated from sites like TripAdvisor that feed into Google Place, make sure to set up your own listing and ‘claim’ those listings to ensure that the information is accurate.
- Make sure you complete all the available fields fully, using relevant keyphrases where possible/logical (title, description, etc.) See this article on Search Engine Guide by Dave Cosper for some detailed actions that may improve your position for these searches: Optimizing Your Business Listing for Local Search Supremacy
When will Google Place Search be available to users?
I am not seeing this interface when searching from Ireland. According to Google, “Place Search is rolling out now and will be available globally in more than 40 languages in the next few days.” If it’s not in your area yet you can view via this special link.
See more on Google Places at:
- Google Escalates The Location War With Google Places (Tech Crunch April 2010)
- Google-Local Business Center Becomes Google Places (Search Engine Land April 2010)
- Google Places Police (Search Engine Journal July 2010 – an overview of things that may get your listing rejected)
- Making Sense of Facebook Places (Search Engine Land August 2010 – compares to Google Places)