2010 truly has been the year for local search, and this reality is becoming more pronounced this month as Google goes public on a wave of tests being conducted for various Google Maps features, as well as a bold decision being made for the future layout of your standard Google search engine result page.
More cosmetic tweaks…
Google has continued to give its Maps interface a makeover as to how they appear in search engines. After the surprise rebranding of the ‘Local Business Center’ to ‘Google Places’ earlier in the year, the team at Google has since been constantly tweaking and fine tuning how Google Places is to appear in the search engines.
From the search engine result pages, you can now view that ‘place page’ of a business, check out the review count, ‘get directions’ and leave a review yourself… It even displays the best methods of public transport!
This is where it gets interesting…
We’ve noticed that the above changes, although minor, are already being randomly tested within browsers. What’s really interesting though, is the new, proposed layout of the Google search engine result page and how it presents Google Places listings.
For example, check out the following screen shot taken from a U.S based search result:
What’s fascinating about this is, not only does your standard search result pull in data from associated Google Places pages to show average reviews – the maps “7 pack” has been divided. The map itself has been pushed to the right, vectoring your eyesight away from the Pay Per Click ads.
What does this suggest about Paid advertising?
There’s nothing set in stone yet. This major interface change to the search engine result page is still very much a social experiment, but if it does go ahead however, we could envisage a lot of unhappy Google AdWords customers.
Unless of course, Google has something else up its sleeve for AdWords.
Stay tuned, because Google’s emphasis on local search may just remodel the ways in which business is conducted through the world’s most powerful search engine.
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