Local SEO Takes Major Hit, Google Places Thrives Search Engine Optimization | March 23, 2011 | By Aaron Schoenberger

If you’re an avid search engine user, you’ve probably noticed a big change that recently took place at the home of everything fun and progressive: Google. I’m not referring to Larry Page becoming CEO, Google gaining a massive amount of attention with their Android phones, or their search engine algorithm taking social media engagements into account. It’s something you’d typically overlook.


To improve exposure for Google Places listings, which are local map listings for businesses, Google has started displaying a large number of Places compared to organic results. In the past, the search engine giant would show a few local listings and a majority of the results would be websites. Now, local searches are all about Google Places and typically 50% of the listings on the first page are derived from such.


For example, when I search for the following sets of keywords in Google, on Google Chrome, I’m presented with an interesting ratio of total results (TR) to Places:

  1. “Criminal Defense Attorney in Chicago” — 14 TR, 7 Places
  2. “Italian Restaurant in New York City” — 14 TR, 7 Places
  3. “Mercedes Repair Los Angeles” — 10 TR, 5 Places
  4. “Vacation Rentals Denver Colorado” — 10 TR, 7 Places
  5. “Accountant in Los Angeles, CA” — 17 TR, 7 Places



For SEO companies and internal marketing teams, this means standard approaches must be modified. Local SEO campaigns are intimately connected to Google Places and the two must work in conjunction.


Should SEO practitioners run for the hills? No, not just yet. Even though Google Places seems to be taking over, a listing without proper keywords, and a website with faulty meta information, sticks out like a sore thumb (if it sticks out at all). I recently wrote an article titled SEO Research: Google Places Changes Algorithm, Pulls Meta Data that highlights the need for on-site optimization.


Moral of the story: If you work for an SEO company or consult clients on search engine optimization strategies, you better know your way around Google Places because it can come back to bite you in the butt. And, as far as businesses go, I suggest creating a Google Places listing right away. I opt for the “Tags” which increase exposure and are very cost-efficient at $25 per month.


Keep up the good work, Google! We all love you.


Aaron Schoenberger
The Brainchild Group


Aaron Schoenberger is Founder of The Brainchild Group — a forward-thinking Internet marketing agency that specializes in Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). He’s known for his work with celebrities, top restaurants, automotive manufacturers, professional athletes, educational institutions, luxury brands and Fortune 500 companies.

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