Google is forever tweaking the content, structure and even functionality of their search results, but over the last month or so has implemented a number of very significant changes – notably Google Instant, Instant Preview, and the way that Google Places content has been incorporated into the SERPs.
In particular in the latest batch of updates, Google Places content has been given much greater prominence, and is now (in many cases) taking up a significant section of the “above the fold” part of the page – monopolising much of the area previously allocated to organic results. Organic search results are now give less prominence at the bottom of the page – and usually below the fold.
At the moment, many of the Place Pages being listed in Google SERPs are still of questionable value, and it is still relatively easy to create a brand new Place Page and have it ranking at the top of the SERPs.
In our opinion there is still a lot of work for Google to do with Google Places results in order to ensure that users get the best possible search results.
I believe that Google needs to get smarter about the algorithm they use to determine Place Pages rankings, and anticipate that they will continue to tweak and adjust how Place Pages are integrated in the Google search results, but whatever happens, it is clear that having a Google Places listing for your business is now more important than ever before.
WebConsulting SEO specialise in Local Search Optimisation, so if you would like to find out more about Local Search or find out how you can go about raising the profile of your own website for local search queries, please contact us.