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Google’s Place Search Overhaul: Small Business Is the Big Winner

Guest post by Thomas Doane – Content Manager & SEO Consultant at SmallBox Web Design

Last week, Google revamped the way that they “organize the world’s information,” giving ‘place’ a new centrality in how they rank websites.  What that means, in SEO speak, is that they’ve merged place results with organic search results.

This has a number of important implications, but the long-story-short is that this is good news for small local businesses.

Most searches used to look like this:

At the top of the page, the website with the highest organic ranking would appear.  Then, further down the first page, ‘Places’ would appear.

Appearing at the top of the place list could be important, but without a tagline describing your business in your place-listing, your business had no chance to win traffic by distinguishing itself.

The website with the No. 1 ranking at the top of the page usually wound up winning the highest search-traffic.  Now that Google has merged ‘place’ and organic search results, for local searches Google’s page 1 often ends up looking like this:

As you can see, the red place-balloons with the business’s address and phone-number, now appear beneath the organic listing.  What this means is that maps optimization and organic SEO are no longer compartmentalized in terms of how businesses appear in search.

This weeds national competition that does not have a local presence out of the top slots in many cases. For example, say that your customers enter the search terms:  ‘flowers Indianapolis.’  If the national flower-delivery service that does not have a local flower shop formerly appeared in the top-slot, they are likely to fall in the rankings to the best optimized local flower shop.

On the other hand: whereas formerly, businesses that were well-optimized on Google Place without any organic SEO (or without a website), might have had an advantage over other businesses that were not well-optimized on Place, now they’ve lost that advantage.  This makes having a well-optimized website even more important for local businesses.

Location-based services are definitely starting to gain a lot of momentum. What are your thoughts on this growing trend?

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