How Will Google Place Search Integration Affects Your Placement in the SERPs?

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Some of you have probably noticed the integration of “Places” search and the “natural” or “organic” search results last week. If you haven’t yet observed the change, pay attention because it can dramatically affect your ability to rank competitively for geo-targeted keywords.

Although I haven’t had time to research this in depth, on the first glance it appears that the results from the new integrated search are inconsistent so far. Some of the search queries are returning the conventional meta information snippets like page title and description, where as others are enhanced by additional information from the Google Place Page, and other local review/directory information.

One obvious downside of these new integrated search results is going to affect those who enjoyed both a placement in the old 7 pack on the map and an organic placement for the search term. Under the new algorithm, the two first page results are combined into one expanded result which includes the old title and description snippet as well as address and local phone number information. Additionally, some of the clients who had a prominent placement in the organic section of the results, but did not make it into the old 7 pack are will now run the risk of getting pushed off the first page by the new Place Page results. In a lot of cases first page is now limited to 3 or 4 organic listings. Other businesses that did not have an A-G listing prior to the change are now being brought to the top of the search results based on the localized Organic SEO focus leading up to the conversion. Exact implications for your website might be different still.

In the long run this will mean that it will be increasingly difficult for any business to rank for localized searches outside of the physical location/address with out spending considerable time and effort on local search optimization. For businesses that enjoyed a prominent position in the A-G results without a website (which was possible under the old algorithm), it will be increasingly difficult to hold on their listing without a well developed and locally optimized website. It is gradual process of integration, so if this change has not affected you yet, it is only a matter of time.

It isn’t yet clear how the new local algorithm works, but what we do know is that the old natural search and local/maps algorithms have been combined into one in one way, shape or form. What is becoming increasingly clear is that the new algorithm is a game changer for SEO Companies and local business owners alike.

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