Google updates affect Google Places and Local Search Results

Google Update April 2012: Google Venice Algorithm Change – Google Places + Local Search.

Google changes algorithm, local businesses affected the most.

As Google continues to improve the user experience, they have rolled out the latest 40 updates to the search algorithm. The Venice update began in February 2012 and appears to be completed in the United States and Europe.  At the same time, an independent group Bizable, made up of a Ph.D and a statistician authored a study analyzing Google Places Rankings.

First, the Venice update seems to be really surprising a lot of the seo community with changes to local geo-graphic targeting.  Local targeting is a feature that has been used in Adwords for years and this isn’t a surprise to the PPC marketing community.  The changes to local search is how Google tracks visitors location:

1)   The primary means which google tracks user locations is when the user logins or sets the local search on the left side of the page to a specific location

2)   Your IP address and zip codes are published by your ISP however this is not nearly as accurate.

Google is tracking users locations to provide search results that would be more relevant to where you physically reside.

For example, if you search for a Dentist in Mesquite Texas, information about a dentist located in New York would not help you.

Adwords Express is another method for local businesses to compete in the online marketplace.  The way Adwords Express works is by creating advertisements that can either be directed to your Google Places page or to your website.  This will help your website show up higher in the search results for your target audience when they are searching for your type of business.

The Venice Update

Affects local search results by providing more local results than national results. If you are a national advertiser and you do not have a local physical presence, you face losing traffic.  Local businesses should see an increase in traffic however this is completely contingent on how well your website and marketing is optimized to local.

The Research Study Findings:

Top 3 Factors To Improve Google Local Ranking
Integrated Page Results

  1. In Places, you have a primary and secondary page category and Google places uses broad match to rank your business. A search for “pizza”, Places category = restaurant. This only applies of course if there is a broader category.
  2. The search category appears in the business name (“Rocky’s Pizza” for a “Seattle pizza” search).
  3. The search category appears in the “at a glance” section.


Top 5 Factors To Improve Your Google Local Ranking
Non-Integrated Page Results

  1. Having 5 or more Google reviews will improve your local rankings.
  2. Adding the location term in “at a glance” section. (New York in “new york city pizza”)
  3. Category term is within Google reviews (The description “new york pizza” is in the text of the Google reviews.
  4. Category term in business description.  I have seen this with contractors and specifically roofing contractors.
  5. Your Places profile should contain the category term in “at a glance.”

How This Affects Your Strategy

The strategy for businesses and Google Places should be focused around the overall marketing Call to Action.  In the Google Places Marketing Campaignexample of the dentist above, we focused his campaign around new patient appointments.  One of our metrics for success  in this campaign was the number of clicks requesting driving directions.

If you need help with Google Places Marketing or Adwords Express Advertising, Call 877-301-0001 and setup a time to speak with our Google Certified Marketing Consultants.

Alex Fender Google Analytics Qualified Individual Funnel Science Internet Marketing

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