By Kim Evered, Solutions Marketing Manager
There is never a dull moment in the world of SEO. Just as we’ve acclimated to the last round of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) display changes back in February, Google began rolling out another set of changes early this month. In certain local searches, the right rail has been turned into a rich display of Place Page (Maps) information, including links to interior business photography. This change, which is illustrated in the screen shot below, brings a great deal more of the Place Page information into the local SERP. Additionally, the revised results page virtually eliminates right column ads “above the fold” when the new SERPs appear.
Google only shows these new SERPs in the context of a search for an individual business location (e.g., “branded name + City”) and/or when the searcher scrolls over the Instant Preview function.
What do these changes mean for you?
The changes underline the importance of maintaining your Google Place Pages as part of an overall SEO strategy. The screen shot highlights a continued emphasis on reviews. Links to reviews appear in multiple places for each listing and in some cases, elements of reviews may pull into the “At a Glance” section. The richer, more visual representation of Place Pages emphasize the importance of having high quality photos in your Place Page.
Regarding the three areas of the SERP – Organic, Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and Places - Google continues to merge the results from one section into another. This is seen in location extensions pulled from Places and listed with PPC ads, and the clickable “+show more results” sections, which may pull organic results, Places results, or reviews. It emphasizes the need to optimize in all three areas as part of a complete digital marketing strategy.
Although the SEO implications of this change haven’t been fully explored, one thing is already certain: Google is positioning Google Places as “the” directory for local search.
Managing Google Places Accounts
Because G5 best practice is to complete 100% of the Google Place Page profiles and continue to monitor them over time, no action is necessary on the part of G5 clients to capitalize on this change. These new SERPs will pull directly from your completed profiles.
For those managing your own Google Places accounts, be sure to populate your listing to 100% completion and check it regularly for changes. Steps you can take now:
- Claim and populate your Google Place Page to 100% completion. Include 1 logo + 4 photos, your hours of operation, specials and the correct category for your business.
- Link to your website. This will allow your website to appear on the preview pane and will help drive more traffic to your website.
- Clean up your Web presence. Make sure your Company Name, Address and Phone Number are consistent with your website content. To do so, search for your business name with city and state (i.e. "branded name City ST") at www.google.com. Review the websites in the results to see where your business is listed and what information is on file.
- Encourage your customers to post reviews directly in your Google Place Page and in directories such as Citysearch, Yelp, Insiderpages, YahooLocal, etc.
- Listen and engage. Sign up for Google Alerts and follow your branded name. Engage in dialogue and respond to negative reviews.