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24 Aug 2010

Google Business Listings, now known as Google Places, offers a great opportunity for less optimised sites to get themselves high up the rankings for relevant search results. Whilst this has previously not been a threat to localised SEO Strategies, there is evidence that Google is moving away from domain authority and content variables, moving towards an enhanced local listing featuire.

Compare the 2 pictures below. The first shows how a localised search currently displays in the UK – the Google places listed alongside the map, with organic results listed just underneath.

Local Search 2

Now compare it to this test result page taken from a search recently in the US. As you can see, the map has now been moved to the top right, with enhanced Google Places listings taking up the entire first page – organic results do not feature at all on page 1.

Local search 1

So how can this affect your business? The truth is, it can have both negative and positive results on your localised SEO. Firstly, if you traditionally gain a lot of traffic through good localised SEO, your site may not perform as well for searches related to areas where you do not have a physical presence. Secondly (and this is where it becomes useful for Google), your business may be required to spend aggressively via PPC to gain highly targeted traffic.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. This is just a test and Google carries out thousands of these every year without implementing everything. It may not come into fruition. Even if it does, it can be seen as a way to break back into localised search, especially if you do have a presence in the target area. 

So, is your business listed? It could be the turning point of localised search.

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