Google recently changed everything with local, according to Brian Combs, the CEO and Founder of ionadas. For approximately the past 2 years, Google had been running the 7-pack local business listings beside the map. Now, however, the search engine has essentially merged the organic listings with the local listings and restructured the page, calling it Place Search.
As part of this restructuring, Google moved the map to the right side of the search results. Incidentally, Combs and ionadas recently conducted a heat map study on local results and found that the map itself draws very little attention. It doesn’t receive clicks or even looks from users. Combs believes Google knows people aren’t looking at it and moved it to the right where the ads are usually located.
He also thinks that local is exploding and will continue to do so. Interestingly enough, Bruce Clay recently told WebProNews that Google would become a local search engine in 2 years.
Combs said the cynical part of him says that these changes Google has made are about driving more clicks on paid listings. He also adds that it will be harder for companies that do not have a local presence to come up in the search results.
“I think Google, to a certain extent, is at a disadvantage in that space because they don’t have the armies of people to help out small businesses,” said Combs.
Although there are a lot of unanswered questions about local, the one thing that is certain is that local is not going away.
What are your thoughts regarding these latest changes Google has made to local?