Google Maps Update - Shifts the Rankings, Impacts Local SEO

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Here is a new post from Sim Partners that shines a light on some of the issues we could face when the new Google Maps is released publicly.

I'm working on a new post showing even more detail about how the Maps update is going to shake up local.

The New Google Maps: Shifting Search Terms - SIM Partners

As our team has been testing and playing with the new layout; one interesting item that we’ve come upon is that Google changes the search term when searchers click from one Google site to the next.

Of course the change in search terms doesn’t mean much if rankings stay the same. Unfortunately, they don’t. Comparisons between the three Google sites show that the top 7 businesses in the local section of Google.com, all appeared in the top 8 listings of the Google’s faux Places page – though with very different rankings. Of the properties that ranked on Google Maps (determined by those pins that had business names showing, without having to hover or click on a pin), only one appeared in the 7-pack on Google.com.

While many people have discussed the changes to the new user interface on Google Maps, the deeper analysis of how rankings, and optimization strategies, will change in this new Maps world are definitely coming.
Above are just a couple snippets. You need to click to read the whole thing and see the screenshots to get the big picture.

"the deeper analysis of how rankings, and optimization strategies, will change in this new Maps world are definitely coming"

Yep working on it... could be a game changer. I'll try to get a post out about some things I'm seeing and concerns I have on Monday or Tuesday.

What do you think about some of the issues raised in the post above?
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Thanks for that screenshot.

We've talked about the new local carousel display that's being tested in other posts. But I meant to go back and mention in the main post that lots more are starting to see this display so I think it's getting closer to reality.

The question remains - will Google only use it for hotel and restaurant searches, because that's mainly what we've seen so far. Or will it roll out for all local searches and replace the 7 pack?
 

Eric Rohrback

Moderator
Joined
Oct 3, 2012
Messages
993
I've been playing around with the new maps for a while, and there definitely seems to be a weight factor with search history (personalized search). If I search for "dentist rochester" and give the listing in "D" position multiple clicks to the G Places page, it will rank higher when I do the same search later.

Of course this only happens when i'm signed into my G+ account, and I can't have access to the new Maps without being signed in. I wonder how ranking will be effected if I'm signed out, clear cookies, etc...etc.. Will the ranking order go back to pre-search order? It's going to be interesting to see what happens when this officially rolls out.
 

Linda Buquet

Moderator
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
13,308
Great post Phil and I see your points.

I agree with one part. I don't think people will change the way they search and I don't think that many search on maps - so that's not my point at all.

But it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

1st off, I think it's going to throw a wrench in all the ranking tools. Some now use maps ranking order since Places search went away. New maps - no ranking order list. Unless you go to Top Results and that ranking order is TOTALLY different than Google search ranking order is. (Not an issue if clients are page 1 but with new clients that aren't yet and you are trying to show them you are moving them up- it could be.)

I think it's going to cause consultants and clients concerns for the following reasons.

Let's say you have a new client that's very ranking conscious. You took them from #26 to #12 month 1. You tell them it takes time and you are working on more to increase their rankings. You get them to G. So they get a taste of page one and everyone goes YAY! Then someone leap frogs them and drop off page one but technically they are #1 on page 2 in the H spot.

THEN the map update goes live.

Your ranking tool which relied on the maps ranking order since Places search is gone, now does not work. They'll probably have to re-program and the only option I see to track beyond page 1 then will be "top results" which is TOTALLY different.

So now they rank #18 instead of H (8). You try to show them it's OK and show them Google maps and they don't show up at all. You tell them to click Top Results to show them where they rank and now maybe they rank # 22 instead. (Because we don't really know yet what controls that ranking order.)

I also predict (but may be wrong) that that new "Top Results" list will show up as "More results near" and the Places link will come back. So then you can more easily see page 2, 3, 4 of local results BUT the ranking order is totally different and we don't yet know what the algo is that's controlling it. So your client may be B in Google search and page 3 in the new Places search (That uses top results.)

To say nothing of the fact that CIDs are harder to get on the new maps. AND what you see and client see, when you are trying to show/explain something to them on maps could be totally different.

So game changer? Maybe not. Shake up likely? Yes, I think so.

My perspective could be "educated guess" or "can't teach an old dog new tricks" or "fear of the unknown" we'll have to see what happens.
 

Phil Rozek

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 26, 2012
Messages
1,558
Great points, Linda.

A couple quick thoughts:

1. I agree that the new Maps is going to throw a monkey-wrench in the ranking tools, but I wouldn?t call that a big deal. Local SEOs need to have other ways to show progress - or at least other methods of showing progress in rankings.

2. Totally agree that Google will probably resurrect some of the features of Places search. Google will have to tweak the new Maps before people really start using it.

I probably underemphasized this in the post, but I think the biggest reason this isn?t a big deal is that - as I mentioned in my point on Google ?hedging its bets? and as you wisely pointed out here - the new Maps won?t matter much as long as it?s restricted to the ?Maps? tab.
 
Joined
Apr 22, 2013
Messages
24
Thanks for that screenshot.

The question remains - will Google only use it for hotel and restaurant searches, because that's mainly what we've seen so far. Or will it roll out for all local searches and replace the 7 pack?
I was testing it this morning, and I was able to get it to show up for "things to do in City, State"

I don't think that it's a far stretch to consider this being rolled out to any search with local intent over the course of the next year, and from Google's perspective, this adds value to the new map ads that they just rolled out.
 

  Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest
Subscribe/Unsubscribe

  Promoted Posts

New advertising option: A review of your product or service posted by a Sterling Sky employee. This will also be shared on the Sterling Sky & LSF Twitter accounts, our Facebook group, LinkedIn, and both newsletters. More...

  Local University Guide


Google Product Exert

Top