Google has just launched a bombshell on the SEO community called “Place Search”. Google Place Search will now replace the local 7-pack results with a larger, and more detailed 7-pack of results that takes up ¾ of the page. (If you cannot see it, simply add &esrch=LocalMergeImpl::Experiment to your search URL; it is still an experiment but will be rolled out the next several days.)

Old 7 pack:

Google Local 7 Pack

New Google Place Search:

The biggest impact of the new Google Place Search is the disappearance of the organic result from the search engine results page. Now the organic results are forced way below the page fold and even then they are only showing 3-4 organic results. So, if your website ranked number 6 organically yesterday, today you are most likely on page 2! Yes, page 2, and as we all know the majority of people rarely ever continue past page one.

Why the Change?

Google said “We’ve made results like this possible by developing technology to better understand places. … One of the great things about our approach is that it makes it easier to find a comprehensive view of each place.”

Personally, I think it is about money. Google is forcing small business owners to use a Google product instead of their website to gain exposure in their search engine. Now, claiming your Google local account is free, but for a small business owner to really stand out they will have to start using Google paid services like: Google Tag, Adwords, or even Google Boost.

Do you think it is coincidence that within one week Google Boost was announced, Google Tag no longer allowed you to promote your website, and now there is a new Places format? I think not. Google wants money!

So What Can You Do To Survive Google Place Search?

  • A good place to start is to read my blog called 5 Quick Marketing Tips for Local Business Owners, as I mention some of the same tactics below.
  • Claim your Google Local Place Account.
  • Fill out all the fields in your Google Local Place Account with as much information as possible.
  • Add your local address and phone number on every page of your website.
  • Use a local telephone number instead of an 800 number.
  • Gain reviews to your Google Place listing, but be wary of paying for them.
  • Find out where your competitors are gaining local references by looking at their Local Place Account and examining all websites listed under, “More About This Place.”
  • Generate user map content where your business is mentioned. Hard data isn’t available to support this, but it has been said that this could help your local rankings.
  • Still optimize for normal Google Results. (I have seen instances where clients that were not being listed in the old 7-pack results, but were number 1 organically, got a major boost to number one with the new layout.)
  • Pay for a Google Tag
  • Use Google Boost

Hopefully these simple tips can help combat any loss of ranking you may see. If you have been one of the lucky websites that have seen a ranking improvement from this rollout, don’t sit back, because your competitors will be fighting for your spot! I am sure that over the next several weeks, and even months, we will see more tips made public and more details on the impact of this rollout on small business owners.

I encourage you to share your own tips or experience below in the comment section or even write a blog post.  

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