SMX Melbourne : Google Places – Not Your Father’s SERPs

monte-h-cropThis is a summary of the presentation given by Monte Huebsch, CEO of Aussieweb at SMX Melbourne last month, about the way Google Places and local search are changing Google search results.

Monte starts by saying that 96 percent of Google revenue is AdWords and AdSense, while the other 4 percent is stuff they do to piss off Microsoft. This gets a big laugh from the audience.

The Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) of today, Monte says, are almost unrecognizable from the Google SERPs of 10 years ago. The majority of search results are now dominated by local matches, social search and/or universal search. So SEO just won’t cut it anymore. You absolutely need to be in Google Places and social search.

He mentions Page Preview – which is a new search feature launched this month, where Google adds thumbnails of a page, directly into the search results. These previews are accessible via the search navigation menu on the left of the SERPs, under the heading Page Previews.

Monte moves on to talk about the impact Local Search is currently having. Monte showed an example of a SERP for “florist Brisbane” and how it has changed in the past two weeks due to the introduction of Place Search. The traditional “7 pack” of Google Maps search results is gone and in it’s place is a kind of universal local search, with images, videos and map pins all pulled from Google Places listings. Results are algorithmic and predictive, based on the search terms used. You can even drill down to isolate only Google Places results for your search terms. This provides a significant opportunity to businesses targeting local searchers via their Google Places listings.

Google Boost is a brand new beta service offered to to select Google Places users in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, allowing them to pay a monthly fee to Google for AdWords ad creation. Boost enables business owners to create search ads from within their Google Places account, without the need for an AdWords account. Monte suggests that this is the way local search is headed – with localized ads right there in your maps.

Links on the SERPs now often lead to a Google Places page rather than web site, says Monte. If you claim your spot in Google Places, you’ll get into Universal Search, Google Maps, Google Earth and mobile search, whereas if you don’t, you won’t!

Something to be aware of when you claim your Google Places listing, says Monte, is that you CANT change the email address associated with your listing. Monte suggests creating a new Gmail account JUST for your Places account so you have more control over it and future flexibility. Monte suggests looking at Davidmihm.com as a great resource for Google Places info.

If you have a mobile business, you can mask your physical address in Google Places. So for example, if you have a mobile pet grooming service, where a physical address is not relevant – you can still use Google Places to your advantage.

Also, try to get reviews on Google Places and add YouTube videos and photos about your business as these are all included in your data allowance and you should be making the most of them.

Google Places is another platform for your business! Make the best use of it you possibly can.

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Leverage Your Google Places Listing With Business Photos

googleHere’s a bit of exciting news for those of you with Google Places listings in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Google is inviting businesses to apply to have a Business Photo Shoot – where photographs of your business will be taken by Google Streetview staff (the guys that drive around photographing all the roads for Google Maps).

Apart from being a free service, the advantage here is that the photos of your business will appear on your Google Places listing, giving you not only another channel to impress potential customers, but also building up trust about your business in the eyes of Google.

At the SMX Melbourne conference last week, one of the speakers suggested that companies taking part in the Business Photo Shoot may well be given a slight boost in their Google Places rankings because Google has endorsed them and verified their legitimacy. While Google obviously hasn’t made any announcement to this effect, it makes sense that businesses known to Google might be given some type of advantage over businesses Google hasn’t verified.

So I would highly recommend you apply to participate in the scheme! At this stage, only businesses in the US, Australia, New Zealand and Japan are eligible to participate and only select cities in those countries. Apply here for your Business Photo Shoot.

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Q and A: Will a Google Places listing affect my national or international rankings?

Question

Dear Kalena…

I’d like to target National as well as International Market for my Internet Business. Moreover I want to get ranked high in all data-centers of Google. I’ve already registered my website business with Google local business center. Now I’m in confusion that does Google consider my website for local market only as I’ve business listed in Google local business center? What if i’d like to get high rankings in all data centers of Google? Should i remove my business from Google local business center to get desired results? Please share your thoughts.

Thanks.
Steve

Hi Steve,

Simply having your business listed with Google Places (formerly known as the Google Local Business Center) will not limit the ability of your site to achieve good rankings in other parts of the U.S or internationally.  It will however make it easier for you to achieve local rankings and can significantly improve your local profile, traffic and sales.

Even without a Google Places listing You are naturally more likely to achieve higher rankings for local queries because :

  1. there is probably going to be significantly less competition and
  2. Google tends to favour local providers (because people tend to favour local providers).

Unless your product/service is very specialised it is probably unlikely that you will achieve high rankings in ALL data centers, as one of the reasons these centers are in place is to provide customised results to meet different regional needs.  I doubt that you could expect to achieve high rankings for an English website in Japan for example.

To compete nationally you would generally need to have a more established site – preferably with national  content and links from other nation-wide authority websites.  To achieve consistently high rankings internationally you would ideally have multiple sites in different countries – each targeting the specific needs of that country (keywords, language, links etc).

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO

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BREAKING: Google Rolling Out New SERP Design

So apparently Google have rolled out a new home page to some regional datacenters today with significant changes to both the search function and Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Search Engine College tutor Micky Stuivenberg (@contentwriteroz) alerted me to the changes via Twitter – which she had been observing on Google Australia since midday today. Micky says she is seeing the following:

1) The radio button options that used to appear under the search box at Google.com.au to Search: *the web* or *pages from Australia* have disappeared.

2) A searcher’s default location now appears under the search box on the SERPs (Micky’s says Sydney although she is located on the NSW mid North coast). See this demonstrated in image 2 below.

3) On SERPs, the main search options that used to appear at the top of the page and are now also listed in a left hand navigation column:

  • Everything (default)
  • News
  • Images
  • Videos
  • Maps
  • Blogs
  • Shopping
  • Books
  • More

These options appear to be dynamic, based on your user search preferences. You can filter the navigation to only display *blogs* for example.

3) Underneath that it has the option to search only pages from your region (a long way from the search box!)

4) Then there are 3 options to search results for

  • Any time (default)
  • Latest
  • past 2 days

5) Then the standard view (default) with Wonder wheel.

6) At the bottom of the redesigned SERPs is a button for *More search tools*.

Here’s a couple of screen grabs of the changes:

A major difference is that all the above options are now displayed permanently on the SERPs, whereas before you had to click *show options* to see all of them. The changes can only be viewed on selected data-centers right now – I’m not seeing them yet so am grateful to Micky for the scoop!

I haven’t seen any posts about it on official Google blogs, although it may be related to the local search changes they announced recently.

I’ve only seen one other blog discussing the revisions so far, so I think it’s fair to call BREAKING on this one.

* images courtesy of @contentwriteroz and Softpedia

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Q and A: Should I pay for a listing on Google Local Business?

QuestionHi Kalena

I have come across a company that guarantees placement in the top 7 of Google local business results within 60 days or they give the money back.  Does this sound kosher to you?

They charge a one-time set up fee of $50 and $49 a month.  Is there a way that you could tell me to do that?  I know they submit to a lot of search engines.  Is this a fraud?  The company is Geo Listing Service out of Las Vegas.

Thank you for your help.

Best,
Lois
————————————–

Hi Lois

It’s just a scam. You can get a site listed in Google Local for free by making sure your business is listed in Google Maps.

More info here:

Google Local Business Center

Google Maps Local Business Help

Just to wind ‘em up, ask this Vegas mob why you should pay for a service that’s provided free by Google and watch them back-pedal. Better still, share the results with us in the comments!

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