Last week Google launched a controversial new feature on local Place Pages – a list of nearby businesses that promotes local competitors on a business’ Place Page, even if that business has claimed their GLBC profile.  With this move Google has perhaps decided that the Yellow Pages industry is totally off their rockers – many YP sites show competitive listings on a business’ profile page only until the business becomes an advertiser.

As Matt McGee suggests, it would be a good move by Google to remove the Nearby Places list for businesses that have claimed their profile else Place Pages like the Buffalo jeweler’s found by Mike Blumenthal that shows 10 other jeweler listings will be the norm and those businesses that claim their profile and do the most work to make them more visible will also end up helping their competition the most.

Now all of this may be just a bunch of local search geeks getting all hot and bothered over what may not be a very big deal.  After all, the nearby places are listed fairly low on the page and thus will not even be seen by most visitors.  These lists are also good for people looking for local businesses so perhaps their needs should outweigh the sensitivities of business owners. But if you have a blog it’s your duty to put on your tinfoil hat and look for conspiracy theories:

Update: The following statement attributed to Mike Blumenthal may have been taken out of context and misinterpreted, but I like the way it sounds so for now I’ll keep it in:
Mike Blumenthal stated about this event: “when you add this to the “enhanced listing” experiment the only thing keeping them from being more like the YPs of old would be the high pressure salesmen.”

My response is that the high pressure YP salesman is not even in the same atmosphere.  He’d need a hyperbaric chamber to keep up with this one.  To wit:

Check out this Place Page screenshot for Mountain Mike’s Pizza in Pleasanton, CA (note to Google Maps team – check out the bug on this one):

As you can see the Nearby Places section appears below the “Details” & “Reviews” sections.  If Google persists with putting competitors on your Place Page, then the best way to deal with it is to push them as far down as possible.  The best way to do this: add more data to your details and get more reviews.

It’s almost as if Google created Nearby Places as a subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) way to get you to add more data to your Place Page.

Sorry gotta go, they need my hat for a grilled cheese.

Share This Story!

About Author

17 Response Comments

  • Mike Blumenthal  February 8, 2010 at 9:26 am


    Your suggestion of “pushing” the nearby places down the page is an excellent one.

    The one caveat is that Google “ranks” all the content on the page and will over time rearrange that content if it appears to be more popular…ie it could very well move up the page.

    I am not sure that you quoted me quite correctly. I noted that ‘when you add this to the “enhanced listing” ‘ experiment that Google was leaving the impression that the page was intended as business landing page.

    By Google adding this new feature, the page is more a search result page and is not and should not be construed by SMBs as an appropriate landing page.

  • Tim Scheer  February 8, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    “””””Mike Blumenthal stated about this event: “when you add this to the “enhanced listing” experiment the only thing keeping them from being more like the YPs of old would be the high pressure salesmen.”””””

    I think that’s a pretty harsh comparison considering YP is all about the cash to get your ranking and position.

    With this feature I think Google has the consumer in mind, giving them more options and places to click through from the LBC profiles themselves.

    If I land on “Johns Auto Shop” and open up his business profile, and don’t like what I see there are now related business types that I can click through to directly from his profile without having to click “back” or researching the term again to go through the same results.

    If a business has fear of having his competition on his own page…. Well he will show up on his competitors profile as well in theory so equally everyone still has the same chances.

    As this article notes, this simply puts more emphasis on getting more user reviews to help push the “Nearby Places” areas down further on the profile for less people to see.

  • Jon  February 8, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Silly question…. What program did you use in that screenshot to create the text box and arrows? Thanks.

  • Andrew Shotland  February 8, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Nothing silly about it Jon. SnagIt for Mac.

  • Jon  February 8, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Wow, great program! Thank you.

  • George  February 14, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I am going to have to rock the boat on this one. I believe that some local businesses should be listed first. This is due to the fact that some people need a local business. It really depends on the industry.

    For example:

    I have just started marketing for a local photographer. She hasn’t been around long and her website is brand new. Therefore it would be incredibly hard to drive internet business there without the Google local listing. Sure she could pay for Adwords, but she doesn’t have very deep pockets for that.

    I would have to say that it is beneficial for some industries, and hurtful for others.

  • Jeff Swanson  February 17, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I have to agree with Tim on this. Nearby Places is providing the user with a better experience.

    I do like your point about pushing the content down. It serves the purpose of hiding the Nearby Places, but also makes your content more robust.

  • garry  February 20, 2010 at 1:45 am

    the reviews that you mention have an effect on the position of the map listings. It can be that extra percentage that gets you a first page maps listing.

  • dhurowitz  February 21, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    As with most things on the web it appears that there is no substitute for quality content and effort. Google also understand the power and importance of top listings and then incentives the results by getting users to participate and provide reviews for improved results, brilliant. The more reviews the more unique content as well better the quality of the results returned, a total win win. guess its time to roll up the sleeves once again…

  • Riley S.  February 22, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Adding even more details about your business seems like a great strategy to combat competitor encroachment.

    Are you aware of Google using IP information and/or physical addresses listed on websites linking to yours in their algo to determine local relevance?

  • jrsturges  February 25, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    This also brings to light Related Maps. They look like another solid opportunity to add more valuable content above and adjacent to the Nearby Places section on the page.

    If you haven’t seen Related Maps on Place Pages they appear on the right hand side below the sponsored links section. Apparently if someone has mentioned the business in one of their custom My Maps it will be listed there. For an example try this in Google maps: de Vere’s Irish Pub 1521 L Street, Sacramento, CA 95814 (go to the Place Page)
    Keep this page up for a minute or just go to the bar this’ll wait.

    Admittedly because of placement (right hand column) Related Maps won’t push the Nearby Places down the page but they can add many more related links adjacent to the reviews and other left side content. Obviously a business can’t completely control this section but it would be a smart move to include well titled interesting items that the business would suggest. A jeweler might suggest a nice place to have lunch or create a fabulous evening to pop the question.

    Another interesting note on Related Places is it appears that text from inside these user generated My Maps listings is included further down the page under User Content. Refer to de Vere’s Irish Pub Place Page again for an example.

    A note on pushing things down the page:
    de Vere’s Place Page does have plenty more reviews than are shown. You have to click to get to them. It appears Google may have a predetermined amount of vertical real estate for reviews and no number of reviews will actually push the Nearby Places down the page. If this is the case Related Maps and their User Content may be the best way to distract users as they scroll down the page, you can rehook them with “More About” (snippets from other sites that mention you) or with user generated My Maps content further down.

    (I wonder if they’ll include lost Nearby Places clicks in the GLBC analytics? Not)

    It appears Google is heavily encouraging the use of My Maps user generated maps to enhance Place Pages and as a counter-balance to Nearby Places which they supply. Like usual we’ll have to work for it but this opens up a world of possibilities for marketers and users.

    This was meant to be a quick addition to Andrew’s insightful post but rapidly mushroomed on me. Hope it helps and raises some questions and ideas.

  • Bob Sommers  March 6, 2010 at 11:43 am

    It would be interesting to see what the “Nearby Places You Might Like” listings have in common. Are they the most reviewed listings or the listings with the most citations? Why is the first listing on that page in the top spot? Is the same listing in the top spot on all of their competitors pages? This is getting interesting.

    I have a feeling this weekend is going to be filled with research and testing.

    Thanks for the inspiration Andrew.

  • Carolyn Holzman  March 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the idea of generating enough content to push down the nearby places content. Interestingly, I’ve had some unofficial consumer feedback that might indicate consumers don’t scroll too far down and completely missed all the information at the bottom. Go figure.

  • Pat Campbell  March 21, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Very good information for strategies to be found when the consumer is doing their pre-spending research from home online.

    I understand the stats are in that businesses that have their businesses list can measure the business volume increases related to consumer online search.

    Businesses who do not maintain an online presence lose business.

    There are often locally supported directories that also support business listing that local businesses can use to market to their niche.

    Great article.

  • dhurowitz  March 21, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    What we have found to be most challenging in regards to result on Google’s local business results has been the way some companies are getting credit for recommendations that pour in from blog feeds and others are having to slug it out one recommendation at a time. there seams to be no reason as to how some companies are gaining all these credited recommendations form blogs that have little or in some cases no connection with the business, and other that have legitimate mentions and links get no credit. Have other of you seen the same and any ideas on how to correct or compete with this issues?

  • marissa  March 30, 2010 at 6:57 am

    I actually like the idea of google bringing suggestions of other places you may like to the table. While this may draw traffic away from your site in some respects, it also has the ability to boost traffic. Think about your business and its potential for overlap in the recommendation category, your business has the opportunity to generate more clients. Maybe instead of pushing the results down, would it be possible to place them on the left side or something?

  • Santosh  September 5, 2010 at 3:31 am

    In addition to building relationships with customers, posting detailed business information also provides your customers with necessary information in one easy-to-read location. This streamline navigation feature reduces frustration on your clients and allows you to reduce the number of unproductive phone calls and inquiries that revolve around your hours of operation, directions to your business, and more.