New local listings in Google SERPs

Remember Google testing new layouts with local search SERPs earlier this year? It seems that Google is showing them again. This is what we saw an hour ago in Google.com.au:

experiment-google-map

New layout + snippets

Local listings have snippets! Well at least usually, we’ve found some keywords for which the new layout pops up, but with the old snippet-less listings. Nice, huh?

New ranking algorithm

What’s very interesting is that not only the layout has changed but also the ranking algorithm.

There are now only 10 listings on the first page. The number of local listings on the front page vary (usually 7), for some searches the first page shows only local listings. Wow.

The good news is that the local listings appear to be ranked with a combination of Google’s standard search algorithm and the old Google local ranking algorithm. This looks like Google’s attempt at solving the Google Maps spam problem and we have to say – it looks pretty good. At least we and our clients like it šŸ™‚

The bigger picture

If these changes are here to stay this will mean:

  1. Having a local listing is even more important as local now takes up even more screen real estate on Google’s SERPs
  2. Traditional SEO ranking factors will help your local listing
  3. Proximity to the city center is less important than it used to be (since the other SEO factors also weigh in) and there will be less incentive to spam Google Places with false data
  4. An even harder time for the poor old directories

How do you like that? Tell us what you think…