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Local SEO Just Got A Bit Harder This Week: Google Local

January 24th, 2008
29 Comments


As you may know there have been numerous sightings this week of expanded Google Local results in Google’s Web Search. Previously when Google detected a local search they were displaying 3 Google Local business listings before the organic results, but now they are starting to show ten. So that’s why all those yellow pages CMO’s were screaming and throwing furniture around their offices this week.

Here’s a screenshot of what these new “Tenpack” results look like:
Google Local Results Ten Pack

I’ll have some more thoughts on this later but essentially what this means is that any site that was getting a lot of organic referrals from local search terms is likely to find it even more competitive to get these terms in the future.

And on a somewhat related note, Digg.com has apparently changed its system so that it will be harder to game.

So all in all a tough week for those who rely on Local SEO but a great week for those who can figure out how to work within this new reality quickly.


Tags: Google · Search Engine Ranking Factors

29 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Josh Garner

    To be honest, this is actually music to my ears. I do well with local results, both freelance and at my full time.

    I’m not seeing these listings though, just testing maybe?

  • 2 Andrew Shotland

    I was seeing them a lot yesterday but I haven’t seen them at all today.

  • 3 Search Engine Optimization - Terry Reeves

    Actually, in the short term I can see where this will definitely impact many local businesses. In the long term, it will alert searchers that local businesses are also available online and bring more attention and volume to local search.

    I think it will have a bigger impact on directory book advertising as those bulky books will be used less and less.

  • 4 peter caputa

    This is GREAT for local businesses.

    But, here’s the conversation I’d be having with the yellow page sites:

    ” Hey Mr. YP.com. This is “irrelevance” calling.
    Welcome to my world. “

  • 5 Mike Blumenthal

    *Its appearance of increased fairness will appeal to small business.
    *Obviously those that were there before will not do as well now but one assumes it should be easier to get onto the front page
    *There are some weird behaviors though and it appears that the “rules” governing the new result are sometimes very unpredictable

    That all being said, in the end, it appears to me that Google is going to get more traffic to Maps and between this type of behavior and their dominance on the mobile web make Maps “the destination” of choice.

    Mike Blumenthal

  • 6 Christine Parfitt

    Hi Andrew,

    I noticed it yesterday and blogged about the change. I hadn’t seen any other posts about it until yours just now.

    I saw the new format in Google Australia. Previously we haven’t seen new changes rolled out until some time after google.com.

    One of my clients is number one for the search I show on my blog. That’s good except that when you click through to the details half the information is for a completely different business – ie photos, web pages and also reviews. To make it worse the review snippets are not favourable.

    I haven’t seen much information about problems with local search accuracy but I’ve noticed a lot of problems not just in this case. I’ve done quite a bit of investigation into why this is so and most of it, but not all, is due to the information sources.

    I’m wondering whether you’re noticing similar problems or whether the Australian local directory sources are suffering more with quality issues.

    Regards,
    Christine

  • 7 Andrew Shotland

    This is definitely a boon to local businesses that know how to manage their online profile. But it’s a bitter pill for all those local aggregator sites that generate a lot of traffic from these types of searches. They are going to have to work a lot harder now for their Google referrals.

  • 8 Andrew Shotland

    Christine,

    I haven’t seen enough live examples yet to figure out how the quality is. My guess is that it’s probably similar to what you are experiencing given the nature of the rollout.

  • 9 Mike Blumenthal

    I report on a sample of the quality issues here.

    Mike Blumenthal

  • 10 Mary Bowling

    Overall, I think this is great for local businesses. They all just got 7 more chances to appear on the first page of the Google SERPs for relvant searches!

    I think the new format makes it more obvious to searches what those results are, too. Clicking on them takes you right to the website and the phone number is right there, too, which makes it much more useful to searches.

    The problem I see is that the 10 results displayed are often not the same as the top 1o you see once you go into the Local listing results. What’s that all about?

    A colleague I discussed this with speculates that they are setting this area of the page up to become ppc and pay per call. What do you think about that idea?

  • 11 Jon Seymour

    This feature showcases the difficulties Google will face in “mashing up” local business listings with the rest of its content universe. Perhaps most importantly, how will Google decide which listings to display in densely-populated (>>10) results scenarios? Arguably, this will cause significant issues among businesses that are already paying Google substantial sums. Ironically, this feature was more useful when it was one click away under Local.

  • 12 Andrew Shotland

    I don’t know Jon. I am betting that they are not going to alter the results for advertisers even if it causes them a little agida.

  • 13 Local Business Will Prevail

    I pointed this out the first day that Google rolled out this format. Yes, it appears that this is a test.
    If the results prove to be beneficial to relevance and eventual monetization, the format or a slight variation will stay.

    In the meantime, it appears that the 10 results VS. 3 will potentially affect Google revenue, as businesses are not motivated to pay for Adwords when the perception is that they can get front page placement for free in Google Maps.

    http://www.BringBuyers.com
    The Local Business Owner’s Friend for Internet Marketing

  • 14 Andrew Shotland

    I don’t know Bring. Do a search for “Plumbers in Pleasanton, CA” and you’ll see its mostly national advertisers. I think this will be the norm for at least the next year or so.

  • 15 James Svoboda

    As an individual who is 1,000 times more likely to perform local searches in any given year then to actually pick up a yellow book, I am happy to see them finally expand on targeted content that searchers are actually after.

  • 16 Andrew Shotland

    James,

    I agree that this is a good thing for searchers. The scary part is that this is yet another sign that Google is going to keep on adding more of its own content to search results which will make it that much harder for searchers to get to other sites that rely on Google for much of their traffic. Google is slowly choking off the supply of traffic to other sites. Nobody said it was smart to rely on Google for all of your customers but at this moment in time there are few sites that can afford to ignore Google.

    And while the immediate benefit to local businesses is evident, in the long run this system could create the same kind of monopoly that these businesses have faced with the printed Yellow Pages for the past few decades.

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  • 19 Stever

    I have a few clients who target fair sized metropolitan areas but their physical location is outside the actual city area. This will hurt them a lot as their top organic rankings were allowing them to pull customers from the city. Now with 10 Local Results its pushing them farther down the page.

    With the way Maps is set up these businesses don’t have much hope of ranking well in the Local Results. Except maybe by underhanded means :(

  • 20 Andrew Shotland

    Stever – that’s an excellent point, but then again this is no different than a shoe store in a nearby city competing with a shoe store on Main Street. They will just have to work harder to get attention as always. Then again maybe their rent is cheaper.

    Sounds like your clients have been benefiting from the flaws in G’s results which G is now trying to rectify.

  • 21 Stever

    The bigger flaw I see now is how Google ranks results in Maps. Those clients I mentioned, because they are so far outside the geographic center of the city, can’t get ranked well in Maps.

    Unless they want to open PO boxes near the center of the city to circumvent it. But that seems rather contrived.

    True, its not much different than the shoe store on Main Street competing with the shoe store in suburbia, but G Maps forces the suburbanites to drive by the Main Street locations.

  • 22 Andrew Shotland

    Only if the suburbanite is doing a broad search like “shoe stores in San Francisco” v. a more targeted search like “shoe stores in Pleasanton”. And I would argue that until they do a more targeted search it’s hard to know which locations to show so you might as well show the centroid locations.

  • 23 Stever

    With very large cities, say over 500k or 1 million people, you do get more “community level” searching. But on smaller cities I see more people sticking to the core city name. Except again in certain industries, like real estate, where people are looking for homes in a specific community (and there is significant volume of search traffic there). But for a service like a landscaper, painter, a spa, etc… exact location in the city does not matter as much to the consumer.

    I just don’t see users getting community specific that often (most of my clients so far are in the 200k to 400k population range) . It varies a lot by city, industry, etc…

    But then again local search is still in its infancy as far as internet users searching locally. And i’m just mildly miffed over how G’s new setup affects some of my clients.

    I’ll get over it :)

  • 24 ilan

    i don’t know if it’s the right place to write about, for this discussion is long dead, but i wad wondering if you have some statistic on clicking since the ten and three box entered the game.

    i find that my organic results get much less then before, but luckily i have dominance in Google maps.

    any clue?

  • 25 Andrew Shotland

    Hi Ilan,

    I don’t have any data I can share with you at this point but it’s a logical conclusion to think that clicks to pages below the 10 pack will go down as there are now more choices on the page.

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  • 27 Tax Calculator 2010

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  • 29 Sigh

    I don’t like google telling people when their search is local or not, it should be up to me if I want NYC pizza or brooklyn pizza or pizza recipes. I think the 10 pack should go away and only stick to maps. Contextual search is way too far behind regular search in quality and adding blips of video or images or local into regular SERPS trashes the quality of the results.

    As stated above, it’s one thing if you have ~20 companies in a medium sized city, it’s another when you have ~500 companies in a very large city. There is too much weight placed on (easy to manipulate) review system, and on exact location and distance from the center of the city, or the assumed location of the searcher.

    My results are in the 10 pack so it’s not like I’m a sore loser, I just think the 10 pack quality is total junk.

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