What Does Google’s New Layout Mean to Your Local SEO

Google has introduced a new layout with the Local Places results intermixed with natural SEO results.

You might think someone spiked your cup of caffeine when first seeing the new Google layout … what are the implications for your business and local SEO strategies?

Google did a spring clean of its Google Search Results Page in late November and introduced a new product called Places Search highlighting a clear change for Google local SEO.

Originally when the 7 pack appeared in local search results, they featured before the organic listings. Now, the previous 7 pack is blended in with organic listings and the Google map is shown, usually, to the right above the paid search section.  Find out more about the relevance the new Google layout may have to your local SEO activities.

So what exactly is Place Search and how does it work?

Google blogged about the changes to the SERPS page on November 27 and the announcement of Place Search which Google says is ‘a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places.’ Place Search page was rolled out globally in more 40 languages over the last following weeks. If it hasn’t been rolled out in your region yet, you can take a sneak peak at the new Place Search page layout.

Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when they predict you’re looking for local information. This is typically a search for a product or service followed by a location or vice versa. In addition, you’ll find a new link for “Places” in the left-hand panel of the search results page under the ‘Videos’ link so you can switch to these results if they don’t automatically appear.

So if you use a search term like ‘Sydney museums’, this is the results you will receive with the new Place Search page:

The new and some at Google would say improved local search pages will not only show website listings but will also list the following:

  • address
  • telephone number
  • description of business, product or service
  • Place page
  • reviews if applicable
  • lists of other websites that mention it if applicable

One important change to note is that local listings without a website will not show up on the first page – in the past this was actually possible.

Information and images appearing on Place Search is fed from your Place Page. Google Local Business Centre Listings were launched by Google in September last year for more than 50 million places around the world and was renamed by Google as Place Pages in May earlier this year. So while Place Pages are not new, the way it is being used in local search and how it will affect your both organic SEO and local SEO activities certainly is.

So, what does the new Google Layout mean for your rankings and local SEO?

All the basic SEO best practices are still in place for organic rankings but Place Pages best practices also apply. There is a hotly contested debate as to whether the Google organic search algorithm and the local search algorithm are individual and may use different and the same signals or whether they are now consolidated. Whatever the case may be, Google seems to now be using Places page as an organic ranking factor and devoting more real estate to local search listings, making local SEO a priority for every business.

From initial research conducted by SEOmoz a leading authority and trusted resource in SEO, it seems that a high-ranking maps listing can have a positive effect on an organic listing and vice versa – a low Places Page can have a negative effect on an organic listing – but a low organic ranking does not seem to impact a good Places Page listing. Now more than ever, one should be paying attention to local search as Google moves towards their goal ‘to help you feel like a local everywhere you go’.

So how do these changes affect my local SEO activities?

We have previously written a detailed article on local SEO and ten ways to optimize your Place Page which as aforementioned was originally called Google Local Business Listings. You need to claim your Places Page and verify ownership of the business before you can start optimizing your page. A 100 completion rate is important as well as adding images and encouraging more citations, positive reviews and links back to your listing.

With Google laying their cards firmly down on the table and revealing a two-pronged approach to local search, if you are trying to reach the local market, maintaining your Google Places Page listing is just as important as updating your website. Now more information is appearing in Place Search, it is also essential than ever to keep on optimizing your Place Page and updating your listing with new and updated content.

Google makes it very easy for you to add, edit or delete obsolete content on your page with real-time updates and even coupons, including ones specially formatted for mobile phones (currently only available in the US). Here are some clever ways you can easily update your Google Places listing with new and interesting content that adds value to your listing:

  • add your latest photos and videos
  • incorporate new testimonials
  • upload new seasonal menus
  • add your latest sales and specials
  • feature price lists and brochures
  • include seasonal rates and
  • add new coupon codes.

Showing just how important Google feel reviews and recommendations are to your local ranking and now your organic ranking, Google has launched a new recommendation engine called Google Hotpot to allow you to rate places and add your friends using the Hotpot rating app to make ‘local search results for places on Google more personal, relevant and trustworthy.’ In Place Pages search results, you can see recommended places or by clicking on the “Places” filter or see recommendations when searching on Google Maps, Google Maps for Android.

Read more about optimizing your Place Page for local seo and more about Google Hotpot.

So what does this mean for your business? It is now important to have BOTH a well optimized website and a 100% complete, optimized, and ranking Google Places Page. SEO Works specializes in local SEO and has SEO experts located Australia-wide. Find out more about our Google Maps SEO Package for local SEO and our other SEO Packages and find out how we can optimize your Google Places Page and increase your website visibility in Search Engines for both organic and local search.