Thoughts on Google Place Search

By now, you’re likely seeing Google’s new search results for local queries. Big G has been testing this for a few months now, and the rollout looks about like we expected it to.

It’ll take some time to tease out what exactly they’ve done, but at a high level it appears that the new ranking algorithm is a combination of the old Google Maps and organic algos. This is great news if you have strong organic optimization. You’re probably seeing improved rankings today.

If you’re targeting local queries without a local presence, however, life just got harder for you. For most queries, I’m seeing only a couple of organic listings above the fold. This is about the same as for the old page structure, but additional organic listings are multiple clicks down the page now. You’ve got a grand total of four spots on the first page of results. Good luck.

The seven local listings are now spread out down the page, with only one or two above the fold. This greatly increases the need to be at the top of the Google Places listings.

So, get to work building citations and encouraging your customers to place reviews!