4 Critical Google Maps Changes that will Impact Local Search

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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4 important changes with the new Google Maps
that will significantly impact Local Search

MapsIO.jpg


#1 No left column of the top ranked listings. It's all one big map with a floating search bar. Instead of a local results column, you now see highlights and names of Places right on the map itself. There is no 1, 2, 3 or A, B, C ranking.

#2 No link to Google+ Local Page. If you click a listing on the map an Info Card pops up. It shows details and reviews and link to web site. But there is no link to the G+ Local page. The only way to get there is by clicking on reviews. (Previously there was a more info link on the info bubble.)

I finally got my Maps invite last night, so here's a good screen shot that illustrates several of my points.

New Info Window that features business data on the map

MapsNewBest.jpg

So above you see the listings for several Dentists. No ranking order on the map. The one I selected shows in the new "Info Card". As I mentioned, no direct link to the G+ Local page except via the reviews link.


#3 Ranking results are VERY different than Google search ranking order.

When you do a KW search, as I explained, there is no ranking order on the map. Although only the listings Google thinks are most important will show with a label. The rest are unlabeled dots.

So the only way to see a ranking order is to select Places from 1) Top Reviewers 2) Your circles
or 3) Go to list of top results. See below...

MapsNewBevHillsDentist.jpg

HOWEVER here's the biggie. When you click that link to view top results, the ranking order is VERY different than the ranking order on the 1st page of Google search. So the algo is either different OR things just aren't jiving in Maps BETA.

But here is an even big issue! You know how the Places search is gone now and the "more results near" link is gone now? So you can't get beyond page 1 of the results in Google search. Places search is what the rank tracking programs used to calculate rank. So if someone was on page 2 they may have ranked #23.

Well when that went away, the tracking programs (I believe both Bright and Scout) switched to using the ranking order on the left column of maps, because that's all that was left.

Now that left column is gone. SOOOO the only place to see ranking order is "top results". But again that ranking order is TOTALLY different than page 1 search.


#4 Everyone's map will be different. This will possibly be the biggest issue of all.

You can't tell a client they rank #3 because a consumer's map will be personalized for them. And your client may see something totally different than what you see. Here is quote from a post I did over the weekend.

The map is not a static map. Your map will not look like my map.

And the map for "Dallas Dentist" I look at when trying to see how my client ranks could be totally different than what my client sees. And what that potential new patient sees doing a 1st time search could be different than his results or mine.

This new map is built at search time, based on not only traditional ranking factors (like popularity, proximity and # of reviews) but also personal preferences, past browsing history and who knows what else will be thrown into the mix.

So tracking results and talking ranking with clients is going to get very interesting.

The new Google Maps also learns from you, changes & grows with you!

So if your Dentist client clicks on 3 of his competitors quite often, to check out what they are doing...
I think his competitors MAY appear more prominent to him than they really are (or would be to a patient, doing a 1st time search).

Here is a Google Hangout Ryan AKA Optimize Prime did about the new Google Maps yesterday where I was able to ask some questions and have him show some examples that bring the points above to light. You'll discover lots of changes in this video that will impact Local Search.

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/aVenWtAhxJs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>​


Here is a great post Matt McGee just penned Sunday:
A Tour of the New Google Maps -15 Screenshots

Here are some great observations from Chris Silver Smith at Search Engine Land yesterday:
New Google Maps UI Calls For Shifts In SEO Tactics

Below are 2 posts from here at the forum over the weekend with lots of great discussion about the changes and how they could affect our world.

Video Walkthrough of New Google Maps - Impact on Local SEO

New Google Maps - The Pros Discuss Ramifications for Local SEO

And last but not least, due to all the Google Maps discussions I know will be coming, I launched a new Maps forum on Friday. Add any new topics about Maps here.

Now that I have my Maps Preview, I'll be testing as I have time. I'm sure I'll be sharing more posts about all these changes and I hope to do some ranking analysis to try to determine how the aglo has changed in the new top results order.

WHEW! Questions or comments???





 

Linda Buquet

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Forgot to mention, I can take screenshot requests for those that don't have access to the new maps yet.

If you want to see how a Maps Search looks for a specific query:

1) Give me city + keyword ie: Dallas Dentist

2) Give me a link to the old Google maps search for that query, so I can try to replicate the zoom level you want for comparison.
 

Eric Rohrback

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[FONT=Roboto, arial, sans-serif]Does a Google search for "Seattle chiropractor" automatically go to maps, or will you still see SERP results when the new maps launches fully? Not sure if I missed something here.[/FONT]
 

Russ

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Jul 23, 2012
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This seems to all be slanted towards mobile users. On a desktop its virtually worthless if you ask me.
 

Simon James

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Jul 19, 2012
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:eek: So glad I took a leaf out of Linda's book and didn't hang my hat on doing G+ Local as my main service offering. Selling Lead Gen is looking more and more attractive each day. :D
 

Linda Buquet

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Excellent content and really helpful • thanks!

1) city = los angeles kw = a) social seo b) video seo c)
Sorry got backed up. New announcement about the new dashboard. Changes hitting faster than I can keep up with. May not be able to circle back on this request til tonight.

[FONT=Roboto, arial, sans-serif]Does a Google search for "Seattle chiropractor" automatically go to maps, or will you still see SERP results when the new maps launches fully? Not sure if I missed something here.[/FONT]
No the search still (as far as we know) will go to the regular results. HOWEVER since there is no Places search or more link, if someone wants to see more results, they have to click maps, and once rolled out will get the new maps. AND if they view all results they get the list in a different order than in Google search.

This seems to all be slanted towards mobile users. On a desktop its virtually worthless if you ask me.
Hi Russ, yes it's pretty mobile centric.

:eek: So glad I took a leaf out of Linda's book and didn't hang my hat on doing G+ Local as my main service offering. Selling Lead Gen is looking more and more attractive each day. :D
Yep it's pretty crazy and hard to keep up with all the changes, but those that do will still be able to deliver great value to clients, while half of the SEOs that "say" they do local, will remain lost and confused!
 
Joined
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I have submitted feedback to Google about the link to Google+ pages being hidden in the reviews. Requesting addition of +1 button or share feature. It might help if others did the same. :D
 

Linda Buquet

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I think the "at a glance" is much more prominent now. I want to figure out where they get it from. I have a few clients with the most random words. I would love to figure out some strategy there.
It's also VERY prominent in the "list of top results" which I wanted to show, but that post was already so long. Here is "top results" for Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dentist, when I click over from that top map I showed.

MapsNewBevCosList.jpg

Compare regular Google search for "Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dentist" and you'll see the ranking order of the results is quite different than what you see above.

 

Keenan Glass

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Jul 27, 2012
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Eric - if you're asking if there will still be Blended Results in the SERP, then yes just like always. The only change is when you actually click to go into the Map.
 

Linda Buquet

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dorothea just made a comment in this thread. Wanted to share here, because it really ties into where we are heading.

Just as Linda already mentioned, results in terms of local SEO are starting to be a lot more difficult to track.

3. Monitor SERP Results - SERP results are no longer clearly fixed positions, they vary by country, city, and even neighborhood, device, browser, browsing history a.o. criteria. It's almost impossible to create a measurement of all these things. In additional to that, local SEO will soon no longer be merely SERP focused, with the new Google Maps we will have to develop ways of tracking business visibility on a map (for example, few months from here we might be telling our clients something like: "your business is visible when zooming out up to a scale of X").
You NAILED it with #3 - totally nailed it!
I may quote you or use those lines. So well stated and so true!
 

Phil Rozek

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Jul 26, 2012
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Finally got invited tonight...I like it so far, but I think people are making a little too much of the new Maps. It's mostly a facelift - albeit a pretty well-executed one.
 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry Neil, still sick and therefore backed up and only feel up to doing one.

Changed search term to combine city and 1st KW - you rank C.
Los Angeles social seo - current map view ttp://goo.gl/maps/x6FKX

Crazy Neil. When I search "Los Angeles social seo" you come up as only listing, in the very center of the US. North of Kansas City! How did you do that???

LASocialSEO.PNG

Weird did it several times. Zoomed into different parts of US. If I add a different city it will show a bunch of results for that city. But when I do Los Angeles social seo it shows your listing all alone in very center of US.

 

Linda Buquet

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Sorry screenshots were blurry. Was on other computer and didn't have good screenshot software.

Neil, isn't that weird about your listing showing in center of US all by itself for a search for
"Los Angeles social seo"?
 

sergiuliano

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Oct 15, 2012
Messages
107
@EsR

The topic is on Google MAPs = maps.google.com not about Google.COM itself

A Google search for [FONT=Roboto, arial, sans-serif]"Seattle chiropractor" will generate organic + blended results, the same way it is now providing[/FONT]
 

Linda Buquet

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Jun 28, 2012
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[FONT=Roboto, arial, sans-serif]Does a Google search for "Seattle chiropractor" automatically go to maps, or will you still see SERP results when the new maps launches fully? Not sure if I missed something here.[/FONT]
Yes true sergiuliano it will still show blended organic.

But here is one of the points I was trying to make above Eric.

There are only 7 or sometimes 3 listings on page one. There is NO page 2 local results any more. The Places search is gone now and the "more results near" link is gone now. So you can't get beyond page 1 of the results in Google search. So if you or surfers want to see more results they have to go to Maps which is totally different, does not show rank order and is very personalized and will be difficult to track.

So my point with "Seattle chiropractor" in part is that the ranking order is totally different and the rank tracking programs had to switch to using Map search results order when Places search went MIA. And now the maps ranking order is gone unless you click view all. Then in that view, the order is totally different.
 

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