Some of you over the weekend may have seen the Conversion post regarding Google’s latest test with local search results. The post made particularly interesting reading as this highlighted a huge impact in terms of Google’s approach to local search results, and their usual blended search layout.
In particular though it was the removal of any organic search results from the resultset that was the standout feature of the test, with traditional organic search results removed and replaced solely with the Google Places listings for the particular result. The query used was ‘car rental’ however I understand the results have been seen and trialled on ‘prescription glasses’ (from Gareth Hoyle – Manual Link Building) – and I would not be surprised if this got rolled out to include other local heavy sector such as:
- Holiday Rentals
- Car Rental (as highlighted above)
- Service industries – such as Electricians etc – where results are often heavily ‘aggregator’ heavy and locally referenced
The feedback from the industry thus far has been mixed. Many have said that this is not a good move from Google, whilst others have suggested this is just another move in Google’s quest for greater relevancy. I would however add a degree of scepticism to any feedback here – particularly since the launch of Google Places and the fact that Google are now looking to actively develop Google Places as a revenue earner in its own right (call me a skeptic )
It would however throw the cat amongst the pigeons and in my opinion can not be fully rolled out UNTIL Google have fixed the issues with the current Places infrastructure. In particular issues such as:
- Affiliate Squatting – Many affiliates have taken advantage of either inaccurate targeting on Googles part or active acquisition of Local results
- Awareness – Limited awareness of places at present – thus many organisations may miss the opportunity to compete here
- Support from Google – Google don’t actively support this here in the UK
- Account Migration – Many of these are often setup by agencies/third parties
Would be of immediate concern before undertaking any significant rollout of Local within the mainstream SERPs as highlighted above. Whilst I personally can see the benefit in a higher proportion of non-organic inventory on such pages, whether a full breakout of local results, is the right way to do this is open to debate.