With all of the brouhaha going on about Google’s test of a new local SERP for category searches that will make it much harder for local directories to get traffic, I became almost willfully blind to the more subtle change that had occurred to the SERP for business name queries. Thanks to Patrick Altoft for pointing out that GOOG is now linking to a business’ Place Page for these queries instead of to the business’ website. For example:
According to Patrick this is the same whether the listing is verified or unverified.
Some thoughts as to why GOOG did this:
- For the majority of cases GOOG thinks their Place Pages are a better experience for users than the typical SMB website
- There are plenty of ad units on the Place Pages and why send traffic to a SMB website when you can make a few more bucks by getting in the user’s way?
- If they make the big change to the local SERPs nationwide, IYPs will lose a lot of traffic and be forced to buy more via Adwords. This tactic makes a lot more inventory available.Whatever the reason, it seems pretty clear that 2010 is going to be a time of huge change in the local search biz and GOOG is looking more like a Yellow Pages co every day.
Google has moved local search up on its priority list of projects. Many changes are on the way. If you own a local business, you need to pay attention here.