Google announced this week that it had made some changes to the way it displays local search results in its search engine results pages (SERPs).
The new layout is clear and uncluttered and lists useful information to the right of the main results. Taking 6S Marketing as an example, the information clearly presented includes:
- the name of the company
- a directions link
- a small map view
- three user-submitted images
Under that there are more ‘details’ including:
- ‘at a glance’ (this lists 6S Marketing’s services from the rich snippets)
- hours of operation
- transit information (lists the nearest Skytrain station)
Overall this is a positive move by Google and tidies up what was a messy results format.
There are a few other cool new features; there is an option where some images listed have a Street View mascot, known as the ‘pegman’, embedded on them. When clicked this displays a 360 degree interior view of the business. Unfortunately these are photos of businesses taken by Google “trusted photographers” and are not yet available in Canada. Google is currently only accepting registrations to schedule photo shoots with business owners in select cities in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, and the UK. Find out more information on Google’s business photo shoots.
Google’s Instant Previews feature also got an upgrade. This is handy for when you don’t know the name of a business but do know what street it’s on. In the example below, we entered ‘Internet Marketing company on Mainland St. Vancouver’. The image below is what happens when you hover your mouse over the Instant Previews icon (looks like a gray >>). As Google puts it: “now quickly glance at a preview of the page without having to click and see if it’s the page you want.” These are all positives for local search, and highlight that Google is constantly making tweaks and improvements to make searching even more user-friendly.
Google’s competitors are not making much progress, in Canada anyway. Yahoo! Local’s results look like something from 1993. Bing’s local listings are a little better, but there is no easy way to take control of your listing as they are listed through Yellow Pages.
Bing launched its Business Portal in the US earlier this year, which is almost identical to Google’s offering. Bing Local results include a description, photos, and user reviews as well as the usual contact info, directions and map. Again, there’s no word on when this will get launched in Canada, but as soon as it does we will be first to review it.
Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like (this is for a bar in Seattle, Wa):
Local search is something we at 6S Marketing focus on for both ourselves and our customers when it comes to search engine optimization. Get in touch with us today if you want to get your business fully optimized for local search.