Google announced last night that they are testing local search results in the form of ‘Place Search’ . This function is being rolled out across 40 countries over the next few days. If you are not seeing results, there is a preview tool here.
These results are shown when Google thinks users are looking for local content. The results show Places results (previously called Google Maps) at the forefront of the page, taking over both the sponsored and traditionally organic space. There is also an additional link in the left hand toolbar, allowing users to just see Places results. Interestingly, some cases of Places Results are showing the Places map scrolling with the user, effectively blocking out the paid search ads.
This will surely impact on Google’s revenue stream as part of numerous
page layout tests currently being run, but they will no doubt be
monitoring this impact closely.
On the Google blog, Jackie Bavaro says "We’re introducing Place Search, a new kind of local search result that organises the world’s information around places. We’ve clustered search results around specific locations so you can more easily make comparisons and decide where to go. With Place Search, we’re dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. We automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names."
For advertisers with a local presence, this could increase the tie between online advertising and in-store footfall. If you have a local presence but are not listed on Google Places, now is the time to address this. This launch coincides with the growth of location based searches such as Foursquare and Facebook Places.
We will be monitoring how this affects the search results, and the proportion of searches for which this layout is displayed. It could affect those advertisers where no Google Places listing is held, and the traditional organic listing is further down the page, resulting in a heavier reliance on Paid Search.