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5th October 2010 |  Written by Guy Levine

Google local search evolution

Google are improving the way they display search results for a range of search terms and it appears that my machine is the local Google test Centre here at the Return on Digital office based in Manchester city centre. Now some would say that I have been selected at random, but I’d like to think it’s more because of my well rounded personality as an experienced web user! Whatever the case, I have noticed that Google have changed the way they display local search results.

Now normally, a map listing or Google places pages would only surface in the search results pages if you had used a locational search. However, more recently, this has not been the case as Google can actually determine your location based on you IP and produce local search results for you without the need to incorporate a locational term in your query.

Rather than displaying these in the traditional way as below, where the local results are more prominent, with the map incorporated above the organic search results in the centre of the page (to the left) along with the local results to the right of the map, Google have now shifted the map above the sponsored listings on the right and the local results appear merged with the organic search results. So unless you’ve got an eye for detail, you may not actually notice this change in display of local results in Google.

Traditional display of local results:

Traditional local search results

Change in display of local results:

local search results

This may not be as interesting on its own, but from a PPC perspective, you’ll notice that sponsored listings are being pushed right to the bottom of the search results. Does this mean we need to change our focus to optimising our sites for local search results? It seems that way as Google are testing different layouts to see what affect this would have on click though rates as well as conversion. So maybe it’s time you started looking at ways to improve you places page on Google as well as start looking at conversion rate optimisation for your site.

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