Recently, there has been a lot of talk and discussions about Google Places (Maps) and the opportunities available for companies to get a listing pushed up in the organic search results.
As we all know, Google's recent algorithm update has shuffled the entire search engine results game. With this update, local businesses have the opportunity to reach page 1 for local searches – if they "play the game right" – and can do so without spending money on PPC.
Here is a list of changes our Search Engine Specialists have seen in the search engine results pages.
– Google Places listings are intertwined with organic listings. Gone are the days of the "pack" of Google Places listings, which were separate from organic listings.
– In some cases, Google will mesh the organic and Places listing, and in other cases they will be separate. This allows for multiple showings on the same page.
– Google seems to be valuing a Google Places listing that is "fresh" with content. Providing quality content is essential (which has always been important to Google). Providing enough contact information, a solid description, pictures and reviews definitely are important.
– Google has moved the map from the organic, or main part of the search results page, to the right – which has dropped down PPC ads. (This most likely will cause PPC to become more competitive. This also is different with different searches).
– It also seems apparent that a company using Google Tags, with Google Places, is seeing a bump in their listings. This makes sense, since you are spending $25 with Google.
Any one can very easily search a business in Google Maps and see if they have a listing and whether that listing is claimed. ICND can also help maintain that listing, for a small fee, each month.
You don't have to have a website to get a Google listing, but once you are getting business off of it, it's probably a good idea to get one up there and have us optimize your site to help keep your rankings in local search results. We have seen great successes and our clients have quickly seen a jump in Google Places come from having an optimized listing, as well as a website that is optimized for local search.
A Google Places listing alone can be enough for some businesses (given their market and competition), but in most cases they will need a website and some optimization to really be effective. As with everything, this is a case by case basis.
With Google changing things up, businesses have a good chance of being found for local search terms, they just need to get in the game and claiming their listing is a start.