Massive Google Changes Severely Impacts Local SEO

by Paul Teitelman October 28th, 2010 

First of all, WOW! If you havent already seen the massive change that occurred in Google then you need to immediately check out Marthas post explaining how Google local results are incorporated into the organic SERPs.

The organic rankings havent changed themselves but whats changed is how these results are now being displayed. Gone is the local 7 pack and instead we now see a blended organic page with the top sites for local terms displaying their address and even a small thumbnail in addition to the traditional title tag and meta description snippet.

One of the other major changes is that there is now a map on the right hand side that hovers over the sponsored listings in the right sidebar (for now " cant see Google wanting users to have difficulty clicking on the ads in the sidebar for much longer).

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Really cant understate how massive the implications of this change are! From my perspective, Google is hands down providing a much better user experience and instantly eliminating many businesses that try to spam the old Google Local/Google Places listings with fake addresses, virtual offices/numbers and P.O. boxes, fake reviews and citations, etc.

Since its still relying on its algorithm for organic rankings what it signals is that local businesses that traditionally thought that just their local listing was important will now need to wake up and ensure they have solid organic positioning to compensate for the new changes that got implemented on the afternoon of October 27, 2010.

Google Adwords vs. Local?

As for Google Adwords – the program is not going anywhere; its the backbone of Googles enterprise and should only benefit from having an increased demand for the top slots for sponsored listings on the homepage as the traditional directories will have no other choice but to start raising their bids in an attempt to gain back some of the massive traffic they will lose over time with the changes we see today.

What This Means To You (& Us)

Weve all seen Google test out major changes like this before but one would have to believe that this is the direction they are going. With no PR update in over 8+ months weve all been speculating internally that Google must be up to some big changes; you can imagine the shock (and pure excitement!) we all experienced when we saw these changes live.

This is great news for small businesses who have already invested in SEO, and for those that have been reluctant it will prove that they need to get with the times and get optimized sooner than later or else they risk losing the ground to local competitors who will.

At the end of the day I believe Google has been testing and tweaking this for a long time (first it was a more advanced Google Places and then this) and their whole goal has always been to provide a better search experience for the user. But with these changes their alternative goal seems clear " to capture as much local search dollars as possible. All in all exciting times to be in the SEO industry!

Paul Teitelman

I'm a SEO Manager here at SEP and am responsible for overseeing the organic ranking of clients for their major keywords. When I'm not in front of computers my main passions are drumming, hockey and hanging out up north at my cottage in Muskoka.

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7 Responses to “Massive Google Changes Severely Impacts Local SEO”

  1. Celeste says:

    Great post! Houston is one of the 3 cities in the US that gets to be first Boost testers and I am anxious to see when our results start to show like Toronto's. Definitely a game changer!

  2. "This is great news for small businesses who have already invested in SEO"

    Oh yes it is!
    .-= Michael Dorausch recently posted: Los Angeles Google Maps Centroid =-.

  3. Will Scott says:

    It does appear that really strong directories are still holding top of page.

    Examples:
    http://www.google.com/search?q=austin+handyman
    http://www.google.com/search?q=liposuction+new+jersey

    And, of course, they can always buy ads :)
    .-= Will Scott recently posted: New Google Local Changes Everything =-.

  4. Matt Pottens says:

    Paul,

    Very interesting post. I never really bothered to think about how much other businesses profit off of the obviously MASSIVE amount of traffic on google.

    Also, to follow that point up, its interesting because the standard internet user like myself, who uses google as a means of prospecting for potential clients, doesn't really even notice the small intricate changes designed to make my search experience easier…I just, as quickly as possible, click where the info that I need is – Yet these changes, as you mentioned are surely catastrophic for other companies like yellowpages etc.

    Thanks for keeping the uninformed, informed. Keep it up!

    Matt

  5. Celeste, Michael & Matt – Thanks for the feedback guys! Hope you enjoyed and continue to stay tuned to the blog for more updates on this latest change from Google.

  6. gabe says:

    I've always preferred Yahoo's local anyway but now there's even more reason to use Yahoo search over google.

  7. Gail Gardner says:

    I can not emphasize enough how dangerous Google's monopoly is for every small local or online business. They already have the power to kill any business and with every new change they make they cement that power over us.

    The ONLY solution is for business owners and those with online influence to educate the public about WHY monopolies are dangerous. I encourage anyone who does not understand why I am saying this to contact me.

    A short example is the tradition of the company store where employees only had one place to shop and often only had script to use so they could not buy anywhere else. Every blogger who writes more about how "wonderful" you think Google is digs a deeper hole for our economy.

    We must start looking at the big picture and realizing that EVERY action has consequences. Our decisions have destroyed our economy and continuing to use Google is eliminating more and more choices every day.

    We need to be showing people how to find local and small online INDEPENDENT businesses that reinvest money in other small local and online businesses and pay wages that provide a decent standard of living instead of squeezing the life out of them supporting multi-national Corporations that engage in unethical practices.

    Please keep this comment – even it you think I'm crazy or don't believe me or don't understand me – because this is critcally important and at least some people will realize what I'm talking about. Read the post I'll put in CommentLuv for supporting links and statistics and more about what we can each do.
    .-= Gail Gardner recently posted: Why the Economy is In Decline and What We Can Do to Improve It =-.