It looks like the new look Google Local search pages are beginning to roll out, with Google accepting submissions from around the world. It would seem we are still in a testing phase as different layouts are being reported.
These were being tested back in July and you can see the new layouts recorded for Google Places. This is quite a radical departure from the current layout and SERPs, and will affect all local SEO.
One of the biggest differences is that in order to get most of the information a searcher requires, they do not need to leave the Google page and visit your website due to enhanced listings with far more information. This will mean that your Local/Places listing will need to be up to date and there are other changes which it is hard to guess whether they will stay or go in the full rollout – using the title tag for the listing, and hey, META tags are back in vogue!
Other differences seem to mean that a strong organic listing will assist in your Local / Places listing, as will reviews.
Unexpectedly, PPC listings have lost real estate above the fold, which is an interesting development on Google’s part considering where their revenue comes from. Organic listings have been pushed further down, in some cases 2 pages down, although some of the recent investigations as these new SERPS are being rolled out seem to be showing that sites with a strong organic listing AND already in Local/Places get a better listing in the new layout.
All in all, it seems that fairly major changes for Local Search are afoot and if you are not yet up to date with Places, it is time to get cribbing (or ask your internet marketing agency of course)! Why not start with our next blog post about Google Boost….