Google Local Increases its Prominence

Try doing a search for a business or product and include a location in the search phrase. For example “garage edinburgh”.

The screen real estate being used up has been significantly expanded by the inclusion of a map as shown below:

In some cases, they also provide links to reviews (sourced from the likes of TripAdviser). This from a search for “hotel edinburgh”:

The box (known officially as a one box) appears below the top sponsored listings and pushes the organic listings further down the page. The obvious winners here are those in these local listings.

However this is also good news for AdWords advertisers as they are now potentially the most relevant links in the top half of the page. Those with high natural listings will not be so happy! The real question though, for Google, is will the searcher be happier?

To me, the local listings are still fundamentally flawed because they favour the city centre so much. Do you really want to see the three hotels nearest the point that Google deems to be the city centre? I am not convinced. Hence my assumption that AdWords clicks will increase.

It is possible that searchers will become more sophisticated. I tried a search for “restaurant stockbridge edinburgh” and the results were OK. However it didn’t pick-up our favorite Bells Diner and they also mentioned a couple of places that have been out of business for more than two years.

Of course, I still have my gripe about the poor targeting of the sponsored links when you click through to the “More local business results >>”. Seriously Google, its an easy fix and one that will mean happier users and more revenue for you.

The Google Blog has the official take on the change.

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