Google’s Announcment Leaves Local Search Industry with Challenges/Opportunities

Well the world of Local Search was turned on its ear yesterday with the Google.s D-Day.s announcement. At times like this, songs always run through my head, the song that came to mind was .The World Turned Upside Down., an English ballad played (or reportedly played) tauntingly by the American troops at the surrender at Yorktown and the end the Revolutionary War. My boss Tim Judd started humming R.E.M..s 80.s hit, .It.s the end of the world as we know it, And I feel fine.. It may be his age or the fact that he is from the UK, humming .The World Turned Upside Down. might still .smart. a bit, but the fact is that the announcement at 11am (PST) on October 27th turned the World of Local Search upside down a bit.

What are we talking about and where does this leave eLocal Listing, its customers, and partners? First in Google.s .commitment. to Local Search they introduced two new features; one is a new way to search for and to display Local Search Results. The other is a new type of ad for local businesses called Boost.

Google Places and the new Search Results certainly present a challenge for Local Search companies and traditional IYP Directories that rely on SEO for traffic, but with challenges one finds opportunities.

With the new results pages local businesses are displayed with a cluster of links associated with the business giving priority to content rich and review sites like Yelp, Zagat, CitySearch, and dine.com. Since a picture paints a thousand words, let.s take a look at my favorite restaurant in Temecula . Gourmet Italia.

Gourmet Italia has always ranked high in Google Maps, and as you can see this has not changed. In the Search for Best Italian Restaurant in Temecula, CA you will see that Gourmet Italia takes the coveted A spot in Google Places.

Google Maps. You would also find this business listed in Natural Results for his newly designed website; gourmetitaliarestaurants.com, again for yelp and once again for opentable.com.

With the new Results page, Gourmet Italia may show up less often, but still holds a prominent position and its links are displayed within Google Places. Hungry residents in Temecula can locate their favorite restaurant, call Alex (owner), drive to their location near Starbucks, read or write reviews and click on a number of links to find out all they would want to know about Gourmet Italia. I get it, seems convenient, logical, and well organized.

Before Monday you would have found his listing in Google Maps, had to click on More or Get Directions, read about the business, then see links, web references and reviews deep within the listing. The strange thing is that as I wrote this, I actually couldn.t remember the way Google Maps worked 24 hours ago, wow, how quickly we adapt and/or forget.

Google stated that these new changes are Google.s attempt to compile information from across the Web and to display it in a logical manner to help the user.s experience. Marissa Ann Mayer of Google explained, .The whole is more than the sum of its parts,. and this new presentation of Google Search Results and Google Places endeavors to provide logic to the wild west of Local Search. Others can believe that the intent was more nefarious, but using it in the last 12 hours, I can certainly follow their logic. OK, Google, I am getting it, not a true convert yet, but I do get it.

To continue – Alex at Gourmet Italia is not only a friend, but a customer of eLocal Listing and his Profile appears (and always has) on the front page for many of his keywords. We are pleased that even with the recent changes, Google still finds our blogs and profiles relevant data areworthy of displaying in top positions.

So what does it mean to Local Search Companies and to eLocalListing in particular? I have spent the last four hours running ranking reports and checking Search Results for over 100 keywords for a variety of business categories in towns and cities of varying sizes. I have to say that at this point, I am pleased with the results. Google finds our listings relevant and in many instances presents our listings in prominent positioning in Google Places, as the .authority. of sorts with links to other sites.

In other instances we still hold prominent positioning in Natural Results, as well as Google Places.

I guess time will tell how this change in Local Search will play out of all of us Local Players; my feeling is that some will be hurt by this more than others. I also hear the sounds of lawyers all around this nation lining up to join together in an anti-trust suit against Google. In the mean time, smart and agile companies will work within Google.s new logical display of local data to try to return the best value in Local Search. They will inevitably turn to other avenues such as Social Media, AdWords, and oh yeah those other guys, Yahoo! and Bing.

eLocal Listing already had these and other initiatives in the works. We intend on being on top of both Google and the Industry for years to come. Sometimes turning the world upside down is a good thing.

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