Google has been adding new features to help small-to-medium sized businesses get noticed in search engine results pages (SERPs). This year, one big change was the renaming of the Local Business Center to Google Places. Along with the name change, this product was retooled to provide business owners with powerful yet easy-to-use tools to help people discover them when they search.
You’re probably already familiar with these free business listings, as they’re often included at the top of the SERPs for relevant search queries. What you may not be familiar with are the changes that might be coming to local search. With Google’s mission to give users the most relevant, high-quality results possible, the search giant has already begun testing a radically new layout, and possibly even a new algorithm, that may affect how your business gets found online. Among the changes spotted in these intermitted tests are as follows:
· The embedded Google Map has been placed along the right sidebar, pushing down AdWords advertisements.
· Reviews are being more prominently displayed.
· The placement, or ranking, of current local listings changes radically in the test.
One thing I noticed in my sneak peek is that organic seems to play a big role in the rankings.
More details: Google local search experiment.