Big Changes in Google Search

Google has made a number of aggressive changes to the way search results are displayed when the search term includes a City and/or State. This is going to have a direct impact on your business if you target search terms that include physical locations.

What Has Changed – Google has introduced “Place Search” as a replacement for Local Search. The familiar 7 Pack Map Grouping at the top of the page has been eliminated. The map now resides in the right sidebar. The Local Listings have been integrated into the search results. In many cases this has displaced organic results, pushing top 10 listings on to the second page of the search engine results.

Who This Will Effect:

Brick and Mortar Businesses – Good News: RightNow Communications (RNC) has been working in anticipation of this change with our client base in this category to expand their businesses local search presence and enhance Google Places pages. You must be competitive (front page result) if your business falls into the category. Call us if you have questions.

Geographic Specific Directory and Portal Sites – Mixed News: If your site focuses on one specific location, but covers multiple business types (Example CVB type sites) then you may have the ability to rank above the Google Places listings in organic search. Placement for your site depends on a number of elements, including having a very strong link profile and deep content. The good news here is that Google recognizes the value of these sites (the the consumer) and is giving them good placement for search terms that include City +/- State. RNC has a number of strategies to help your site succeed if you fit into this model.

Multi-Geographic Directories, Portals, Info Sites – Not Great News: If you have a site that covers multiple geographic locations for a variety of products or services then you have most likely seen a negative impact on your positioning and traffic. Even if you still have a top placement in the organic search results your listing is most likely at the bottom of page one of the Google Search Results page. We are currently working with several of these sites to maximize their effectiveness in organic search.

Some Thoughts & Opinions:

As with most search engine changes the best approach is to take a deep-breath, research, test, and then implement and monitor. This is no time to have a knee jerk reaction, “haste makes waste” as the saying goes. I have seen several sites completely waste high volume search placements in their haste to get a good position for a low volume local term.

A Word of Caution – If your site is not a Brick and Mortar business that fits nicely into a Google Places category do not be tempted to “fudge” a listing. There might be some legitimate reasons why you should be listed in Google Places – but approaching this incorrectly could have a negative impact on your organic listings, and also leave you with a poor result in Google Local. Do NOT be tempted to sign on with a Local Search program that does not consider the big picture SEO-wise.

Pay-Per-Click Considerations – The new Google Places map in the sidebar now has a very unfortunate feature – it follows the browser scroll as the user scrolls down to view the page. The map now actually covers the PPC Ads as it scrolls. This gives advertisers in the right column less impression time and the greater chance of an erroneous click in my opinion. In fact, if an Adsense Publisher implemented Ads in this method they would be breaking Google’s own Terms and Conditions. You may want to increase your PPC spend for top converting terms to gain a better position for those ads.

If you have any questions regarding the above changes and how it might be effecting your online marking please pick up the phone and give us a call.

VIDEO: Google Places SEO

About David

David Tucker: Search Engine Optimization, Link Building Strategies, Off-Page SEO, Brand and Reputation Management Campaigns, Structural Analysis, and Analytics Consultant. Fighting the good fight against the search engines since InfoSeek and Alta Vista were the top Internet search portals. David has a strong background in technical, design, and hosting related issues. This provides RightNow clients with a layer of SEO that most organizations can not offer. In addition to SEO work, David has developed the RightNow online client reporting system, public website, email and auto-responder system, and the development + branding of the RightNow social media channels. When not working you can find David enjoying the outdoors in Maui, Hawaii


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  3. Anonymous says:

    Big Changes In Google Search…

    Why RightNow Communications is spot on with this post. In my opinion! I won’t go into a long dissertation so I’ll just point out that David nails it when he says, “Do NOT be tempted to sign on with a Local Search program that does not…

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