Google Maps and Google Places are being phased out. They both exist for the time being as Google features, but, are slated to be absorbed into what is being called “Google Plus Local”. Top ranking in Google’s places and maps was never an easy thing to pull off, however the return was worth the effort. Now there is some debate among SEO’s as to whether the newest change by the search engine juggernaut will make ranking easier or more difficult to achieve.
Google+ is an excellent place to promote content of all types… photo’s, blogs, videos, articles, slide shows, and material curated from around the web. It will be interesting to see what role these forms of content play in determining the placement of local businesses in the “maps & places” rankings!
In the past a good search engine optimization (SEO) consultant could literally put your business on the map… specifically… Google Maps. This became more important than ever when, about a year ago, Google changed its format for posting search results. Google Maps/Places used to show up on the side bar of the search results, however, as the popularity and usage of smart phones grew Google put the Maps/Places listings at the top of the results in search queries from phones.
Google is ALL ABOUT providing the best and most useful results to their searchers! A mobile phone is 1st and foremost about mobility! When out and about maps and places are extremely relevant in search results!
That is what the people using the phones wanted!
Originally, Google Maps, (once known as Google Local Business Listings) were most often displayed as a “3 Pack”, dominating the top of a search results page, just below the paid AdWords listings. Upon discovering the utility to the end user, Google tests changes to it’s ranking system in some cities first, Big G started displaying a “7 pack” and even a “10 pack” of local business listing via Google Maps/ Google Places.
Often, the 10 pack took up the majority of the first page of search results, relegating the organic search results to the second page of serps.
When viewed from the small screen of a mobile phone, Google Places is pretty much all one can see, on some models of smartphones it was even difficult to scroll down enough to even view the organic serps.
The combination of an ever increasing number of smart phone users and Google’s new found valuation and placement of their Google maps/places listings has the potential to level the playing field for local small businesses competing against larger companies.It is easier to defend the top of the list than to conquer it, a small business has the opportunity to secure a position at the top of the Google map listings at the outset while relatively uncontested. Once established at the top of the list…
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Potential customers can find you on their smart phones.
Customers have a map that shows your exact location.
More traffic on your website.
Brand/Name recognition will start to rise.
More phone calls from prospective clients.
If you own your own business you don’t want to give your competition the advantage of a head start in vying for top placement in Google+ local,Google Maps, and/or Google Places! It appears that as these 3 Google products merge they will become a major determining factor in not only your company’s web visibility, but, in it’s bottom line as well!