There have been big modifications in Google's Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) with the recent rollout of an integration of Google Places with Organic search rankings.
Most people will have been familiar with the Google map that appeared for some searches particularly when you added a geograpicial qualifier to the search - e.g. "Van Rental Dublin". Google displayed a map along with 7 selected listings right in the middle of the organic listings. For a little piece of nostalgia this is how is how the 7 Pack used to look - View old 7 pack.
With the new change the 7-pack is gone! In its place Google hasincluded places with Organic results. It’s known as Places Search and Google introduced it on their blog recently. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/place-search-faster-easier-way-to-find.html
At a glance what does this look like?
Effectively, instead of viewing a 7-pack with the top 7 listings in your location you only see the organic listings. Having said that, if the organic listing has a Places account connected to the URL it will combine the pictures, address & reviews from that account into the SERP snippet. Additionally the Map with the place markings has been relocated to the right hand side pushing down the Pay per click sponsored listing. Not only this, but when you scroll down the page the map floats down with you overlaying the sponsored listings as it moves - View new layout
So how will this impact Search Engine Marketing?
Firstly, from a Pay per click perspective, it will increase the importance of your ad displaying in the top 3 sponsored listings.
If your sponsored ad is number 4 now, it will show below the map way lower down the page. Additionally considering the map physicially covers (blocks out) listings as it moves, there may be occasions where listings don’t get viewed at all since they are covered as the person scrolls. This will increase the importance of optimizing your site for local targeted visitors. Secondly, places rankings tended to function in a different way to Organic and users could discover techniques of optimizing their places account to appear in the 7-pack without having to be concerned with their Organic Listings.
Now it’s all about your organic results!
So selecting to target local targeted visitors needs to be a concerted effort that you roll out, site wide.
This change has been comingfor a while. Way back in July, Mike Bluementhal indicated that Google were testing a new results page - View his post. Google will roll out this new SERP in more than 40 languages in the next few weeks and we’ll begin to see the impact on advertising over the following number of weeks.
Certainly Google have done some tests on the impact on Pay Per Click revenue but it remains to be seen whether or not overlaying peoples ads is a great idea. Watch this space.