No organic results on local searches – Good or bad?

by Peter Young on August 16, 2010 · 6 comments

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:

  • Hotels
  • Holiday Rentals
  • Taxis
  • 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.

Google+ Comments

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett Pringle August 16, 2010 at 10:48 am

Let’s hope the testing they are doing reveals it’s a crappy idea and the lead on the project will be beaten by the office bully’s during his lunchbreak :) This should be a sidebar option to filter the search results in my opinion.

Another change to keep searchers on Google properties… hmm

Local results are extremely inaccurate, since it’s based on search location, ISP IP data etc etc, it may work well in the US and in certain countries in Europe. But what about the rest of the world…

Jake August 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

Hmmm, interesting results. Would be a real blow I think to quality results if the organic listings don’t make it and paid results are all that get returned. Would be left open to major abuse. I can’t see Google allowing that for long, but hey, you never know. They are a business after all. Lets hope it gets cleaned up. Still, I think SEO is here to stay so I won’t overly worry.

Tony November 5, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’ve noticed recently that your position in the organic listing is becoming highly localized. Using browsers that don’t have the google toolbar installed when we search for a site we’re working on we also see our website right next to it. The same query from a computer a hundred or so miles away and our website is deep down the SERPs.

Craig Daniel October 14, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I can see Google going further and further with this kind of result set. It’s very true that most natural listings are dominated by paid link builders. It’s only a matter of time before it all changes.


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