…you might think that the newer, larger listing treatment might be beneficial for the visibility of these businesses. But, think again—for any of them which have been doing significant search marketing activities, this sea change could easily result in far lower numbers of organic referrals. Companies which aggressively have been marketing themselves have often enjoyed placement within the 7-pack, as well as having their homepage ranked in the top organic results—real estate on the search result page in multiple places. Some even enjoyed presence in the top directory and social media pages that were ranking highly for the term as well. Under the new paradigm, these companies could lose overall referrals along with the spaces they enjoyed on the pages.
It virtually goes without saying that the change would negatively impact the CTRs of the sponsored listings in the right sidebar which will be pushed down by the new map position, too!
Over the past year, the Google Maps team has been working to reduce the amount of MAPSPAM that is rampant throughout the service. But I still see plenty of it – check out Tim Coleman’s analysis of “new construction” as one of the killer local search ranking factors.
If SMBs lose access to a significant portion of page one inventory and traffic from their optimized IYP profiles gets choked off, I can’t see how this will do anything but increase the amount of SPAMMY techniques being used to rank in Google Maps.