Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Have Google Scrapped Their Local Listing Algorithm? How Will Google Places Produce Results?

The hype surrounding integrated local results is just about dieing down, however it has left a large amount of businesses who don’t have a physical address in multiple locations, wondering how they are going to maintain rankings for local results.

Directory style websites that used to lap up geo targeted terms will now find their organic results replaced by the new but messy Google places results;

places results

After looking into this in some detail I really don’t think a trusted site is going to suffer regardless of the new results and here’s why…

Look at the results for “hotels manchester”..

hotel places

Do late rooms really have a physical hotel address in Manchester?? Nope, but they still rank as a places listing.

That’s not all though, we then move onto the ridiculous results;

cars places

Apparently Sainsbury’s Bank is a relevant places result for the search term ‘cars london’ , hmmmm…..

The question is, why!!

The Failure of Google Local

Everybody that has ever dealt with Google local in the past will know the system was flawed, first there was the messing around to get registered and then you had the reviews, references, map number algo that never really worked.

So what have Google done?

Well, it’s obviously not confirmed yet but I believe the algo involves the following somehow;

On Page Optimisation

First you need to have a page relevant to the query, so turn back the clock and add keywords to all those headings :)

You need an Address

It doesn’t need to be registered with Google you simply need to display it on your page relevant to the query and tagging it up may also assist getting on the places results.

Local References

Last but not least, a listing on a directory related to your location will go a long way.

So to sum up this post, Google are scrapping the old local algo and registration in favour of finding relevant local businesses through their crawl of the web.

Good news = Don’t have to have a physical business address to rank.

Bad news = Google still aren’t so brilliant at finding relevant local results.

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Author: Tim (296 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

PaulB November 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Hi, thing is laterooms are actually based in Manchester, theyve probably registered in local business which will help. Though checking the rest of the hotel serps they still there too so their goes that theory. By the way to do you have an opinion on the whole laterooms thing? Ever since monitoring the hotel serp for the last 2 years they havnt budged on a single one, their in house seo team must be somethng else. Only clue i ever seen was some seo job adds on jobsite for them, which didnt really describe what they were looking for in detail.

Thanks Paul

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Tim November 3, 2010 at 1:51 am

Hi Paul,

Maybe laterooms are registered on Google local/places, still it’s not a physical hotel, just a list of options, so you’re going from Google’s list to theirs! In terms of their consistent rankings all I can say is that they must have loads of trust, the are on of the oldest hotel directory websites now and a fully fledged brand by any standard. I think their prominence in the SERPS is down to just that, they are a trusted brand.

We work with some first class in house SEO teams that still struggle at times, I think late Rooms success comes down to the fact that individual hotels don’t do SEO and no competitors have the same brand value.

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Aaron November 2, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Thanks for telling us about the update, I have been experimenting with local Google listings and I finally was able to get listed for some quality terms. I guess things are changing now though.

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Tim November 3, 2010 at 1:52 am

Hi Aaron,

Yes I think they will be changing quite a bit, people used to preach adding your address into the footer of your website for location targeting, now I think it will be more for ‘Places ‘ targeting.

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Lee November 2, 2010 at 11:24 pm

This isn’t appearing just for localised searches as well, if I just type in for example ‘beds’ into google (Logged in or Logged Out) I am presented with this new way of presenting Google local results (I’d attach a screen shot if I could)!! That I don’t get…

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Tim November 3, 2010 at 1:55 am

Hi Lee,

It’s a nightmare, Patrick at blogstorm.co.uk posted about it here – http://www.blogstorm.co.uk/the-google-geolocation-nightmare/

We emailed Matt Cutts he simply said thanks for the feedback, if Google could target locations correctly it might work OK, the problem is they can’t.

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David Ranby November 3, 2010 at 2:37 am

The laterooms address was their physical address in Manchester; their problem and every other OTA’s problem is that you cant have an address in every city. The hotels are alot more savy, especially about owning their local listing so spoofing an address will be very hard and certainly not permenant.

Individual hotel pages on OTA sites rarely have addresses so I wonder if this will change? And even if it does I still doubt it will impact the local listing unless specifically fed into the Local dataset

The weird one is the way the map floats down the page, obscuring adwords boxes. Is this really what google want; to restrict ctr in favour of a none-income feature? I think this will all change again and very soon

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Tim November 3, 2010 at 3:01 am

Hi David,

I noticed after I wrote the post that this was their physical address. However we are noticing sites with enough authority are still managing to rank highly either as an organic result or with a places listing (if they have an address). I think in order for OTA sites to compete they will have to start publishing addresses, I personally don’t see how Google can continue to rely on the local data base as 60-70% of businesses won’t be listed, we shall see.

When I first saw the floating map I too wondered what Google were playing at, however I guess it gives more of an incentive to click on the listing above the organic results, the ones with the higher CPC ;)

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