Thursday, 28 October 2010

Google Place Search changes results

Google has made a significant change to its local search results with the introduction of Place Search announced yesterday. Whereas previously, a localised search term (such as 'plumbers in sydney') would display a map at the top of Google's search result, with up to 10 companies listed alongside. The layout and presentation of these type of results have no changed, with more emphasis being placed on companies listed in Google Places (Maps).

Google has clustered search results around specific locations to enable searchers to make comparisons and decide which businesses to contact or visit. The new results have moved the map to the top right of the results and listing are marked with red pins. The main search results include more information for each of these local business listings, as well as links from across the web, including reviews.

Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when the search engine predicts that the user is searching for local information. In addition, there is also a new link for 'Places' in the left-hand panel of the search results page where users will also now see their location listed and have the option to change this to another location if required.

Google says that they have made these new Places results possible by developing technology to better understand places ad user locations. With Place Search, Google is dynamically connecting hundreds of millions of websites with more than 50 million real-world locations. They automatically identify when sites are talking about physical places and cluster links even when they don’t provide addresses and use different names.

Google's new local search results layout includes more relevant links on a single results page, with sometimes up to 30 or 40. So, they say that instead of doing 8-10 searches, users should find the results they want much quicker - in testing, they say that Place Search saves people an average of two seconds on searches for local information.

This change places more emphasis on the need for companies to get control of their Places business listing and to optimise this content as much as possible to achieve high rankings for relevant searches. It's another way to achieve visibility in the search listings and coincides with Google's attempt to clamp down on the content and format of listings that some companies have added.

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