Blended local optimisation has just become vital

by Peter Young on October 28, 2010 · 1 comment

We featured yesterday the announcement of Google Boost, whereby users can utilise a paid search advertising model to advertise on localised phrases. Moving on from that, Google have now announced the recent localised search results pages are now to be rolled out featuring a higher proportion of blended search results within the pages themselves – and certainly more integrated into the results than we have seen before. This is something that we first wrote about back in July (Local search set for significant facelift) – and has been seen by a number of people within the UK and Ireland over recent weeks – normally a surefire sign that there is something afoot.

It always amazes me how many localised organisations such as hotels and restaurants do not utilise additional features such as Google Base and Google Local – however if these new pages are to become a permanent fixture in the GoogleSphere then this will need to become integral to your organisation whether large or small if you operate in any vertical with a reasonable local bias – such as hotels, restaurants, coffee shops or even something as obscure as escort agencies.

The revised results pages include:

  • The traditional organic results are still there, however where local results have been found these have been included underneath the title, description and sitelinks
  • The tag synonymous with local results now sits underneath the organic result, along with other information such as the address and telephone number
  • UGC data has beenin included in the form of the internal reviews as well as external sources such as related sites (ie travel – Tripadvisor)
  • It does not appear to replace all organic data where Place Search impacts  as  I have read elsewhere – and results which appear to have been positioned well previously still appear to perform well – however there is certainly some takover in terms of lower positions (for example ListHotels and Britannia were nowhere on previous results from our records). This appears to be a ‘hybrid’ version which appears on ‘ambiguous’ terms
  • This appears to be an association between Local and Organic (bit like an outer join in SQL Language). However it would be indicative of the multiple algorithms argument that has been discussed a lot in recent weeks.
  • New places option added to side navigation which allows access to places results only
  • This is being rolled out in more than 4o languages

This thus will present a number of interesting questions and analysis over the coming months as I can imagine this may have a significant effect on a number of levels:

  • Offline conversion – Interestingly this has been included on the results pages which may encourage people to actually use the offline method of contact rather than going through their sites. I would imagine this could be more of an issue with things like hotels where an immediate preference may already exist.
  • Impact on PPC – The Map now included on the right hand side moves as you scroll down the page. This has been something that has been the case since the early observations of this test – and does obscure the paid search inventory as you move down the page. This could have a significant impact on the advertisers who choose to target positions 1-4 and thus create a higher level of competition on positions 1-3 where users can guarantee a decent level of coverage.
  • Impact on organic clickthrough. My first thoughts were that my eyefall was immediately drawn towards the organic local results rather than the map – particularly where an image had been included with the results. Further to the point above, this may impact on the volume of clicks to paid search sources, as users click on the local organic results rather than the paid search results,
  • Whether this is expanded. For example – Google recently announced the launch of Real Estate in the UK. If I were to type ‘new homes in Manchester’ – Is this going to be expanded to include real estate listings as well?

One thing is for sure. If you arent engaging in local optimisation and there is a reasonable level of localisation to your business – You MUST be getting engaged with Google Local. If your not, their is a good chance in my opinion that you could find yourself losing traction to more integrated competitors. At the very least claim your listing with Google to ensure you have a presence. Opportunity allowing optimise that presence and encourage people to review your service via the review capabilities of Google Places.

I will however finish with a sidenote. I personally had a number of issues recently trying to get the bulk verification process of Google sorted out – something which highlighted the significant lack of resource that Google have supporting this side of their business. Whilst I have no doubts the Google reps will be able to support the Google Boost framework – I really really hope this is something they back up with a decent level of support (although I do have some serious reservations)

Highly recommended reading on this:

Official Google Blog – Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information

Search Engine Land – New Place Search Shows Google’s Commitment To Local

Google+ Comments

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Paul Gardner October 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

Interesting post, Peter. I was taken by surprise yesterday with the change to the map and emphsasis on localised results.
I’d also be interested to see how this focus on localised search results affects larger directories for hospitality and accommodation businesses, those that target ‘generic’ phrases like ‘shops in Leeds’ etc.
You’re right about those phrases that performed well prior to this update, though. I worked for a company that ranks well for ‘York B&B’, and that remains firmly in place. However, below, it’s interesting to see more expanded results with reviews and links to their Google place pages.

Big changes going on!

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