Within the last couple of days, Google has announced some dramatic changes in the way they will display their Google Local Search results.
The first change was the introduction to Google Boost, a fusion of Google Places and AdWords. Google Boost allows businesses to run a sponsored map icon in Google Maps. The icon appears Blue – like in Google Places. What makes Boost so appealing is that it allows local and small businesses a PPC solution. The vertical is especially important for new businesses whose SEO is still maturing.
The other great feature is that you can run the same link to your Google Places page within a PPC ad. The option allows searchers to know only visit your page, but see where you are located.
A great, exciting change that only users in Chicago, Houston and San Francisco can use for now. And they put tight borders on them. Those in the suburbs don’t get to try it out yet. But if successful, it should be rolled out to the masses soon enough.
The other major change Google made was in the way they will present local SERPs on Google query pages. Up til now, if a search was considered local, a map would be inserted towards the top three listings. Typically, 7-10 results would be displayed on the map with Google Maps snippets for each location on the left. But once the change is made, the Google local listings will be on the right column.
For people who love relevant SERPs, this means the space is freed back up to have more listings above the fold. But for those who do PPC marketing, much prime real estate is lost.
For PPC people those spaces typically represent the 4-6 listing. Now, yes, the 4th listing to appear will still be the forth listing, but anyone who’s seen research knows the value of having those listings in spaces where that map now resides. And pending on the results, only people who bid in the top three places will have their bids displayed.
Now my guess will be that Google will say that using Boost will help PPC marketers make up for the space lost in the listings, anbut I’m not going to be the one to tell that community.