Google Instant has not killed SEO, neither changed it substantially, but Google is now rolling out Place Search, ‘a new kind of local search result that organises the world’s information around places’. This will change SEO, and PPC, and not just on a local level. Local results now take up most of the SERP.
- The new SERP displays more detailed information from Google Places.
- Instead of 10 organic results, there are around 7 traditional organic results, and the local search results.
- Map was moved to the right and Adwords ads are pushed down.
The new Google Place search however, does not only apply for local search queries. It will appear with generic, non-geographic search queries as well.
- Local map results have started to appear for queries that did not show any local results before.
- The map was placed on the right with the PPC ads again.
- The local results seem to be more integrated into the organic results now, display slightly more details, and a link to the Place Page.
So what changes can we expect?
1. The future of organic results – The future of SEO and organic listings is still unclear, so here are just a few initial points to consider.
- Some organic results from the first page have been pushed to the second page on local searches, and it becomes more important to rank among the first five sites for visibility.
- As it can be seen from our ‘coffee brighton’ search, the old and the new local listings are not the same. Organic ranking might well start influencing the local results even more, and Google won’t have two separate algorithms for local and organic results.
- The new SERPs, actually have more than 10 results, and different kinds of sites clearly separated, which might be considered as added value for the searcher.
- Small businesses, even businesses without a website might be able to show up on the first page of results for local searches. The local results on the first page might contain websites that would not even have been in the first 500 organically. Small businesses with well-built Place pages, reviews and local services can thus become the big winners of Place Search.
2. Adwords will become more competitive – The new map has not only been placed above the paid listings on the right hand side, but as we scroll down, the map will also be moving down, covering the paid listings. Being in the first three places for Adwords, on top of the organic results is thus becoming increasingly important.
3. Generic Keywords – The changes are not just limited to location-based search queries. If I search for ‘coffee’ in Brighton for example, I will still get many local results, based on my IP address. This might help the user find a cafe more easily, but will definitely not help those who are looking for general information on coffee (admittedly, these users would be in a minority) or anything else about coffee. This phenomenon on the whole seems to simplify the search process, and users discovering that they get local results for generic words may also start using shorter search queries. This can have an effect on long-tail search volumes, and might transform their optimisation as well.
4. Google Place Page – The new listing will combine information from organic results and the Google Place Page, so it will be increasingly important to build and optimise the Place Page.
We can see the title and the snippet from the website, as in the organic listings, but all the additional information is from the Place Page. Adding photos, the address, and getting reviews will now all be essential for any business.
Place Search will be launched globally in 40 languages over the next few days. Will the searcher ‘feel local everywhere’, as Google says? As there are going to be more kinds of sites to choose from on one SERP, and it will be easier to find local services, local search is expected to become more user-friendly.
However, the value of local results for generic keywords is questionable, and the scope of local search is limited. Developments in the next few weeks are bound to be interesting.