Google has been very busy this year implementing multiple changes to the way it displays its search results in an effort to continually provide more relevant results to searchers. Google recently announced that Google Places listings will have an even stronger presence in the search results, placing a higher emphasis on local businesses. The new layout may appear for a wide range of ‘real-world’ places such as bars, restaurants, hotels, local businesses and landmarks to name a few. As more emphasis is placed on localised search results it’s vital for local businesses to ensure they have a strong Online Marketing strategy in place to take advantage of the growing opportunities online to drive new customers.
People may search for a specific place name or a more general term. For example, the screenshot below shows the enhanced results for the keyword ‘e cucina’, a restaurant in Perth. As you can see the Google Places listing now dominates the right-hand side of the search results page and provides much more robust information about the business. The listing is larger, more organised and user-friendly. It now contains imagery, a summary of products/services, opening hours, transport information and a link to directions. You also have the option of providing a price range, menus, payment options, service areas, YouTube videos and more. The reviews are also immediately clickable, placing further emphasis on the need to manage your brand’s online reputation through these sites and social networking in order to develop stronger relationships with consumers and the wider community. This allows you to effectively identify, manage and engage with people talking about your brand. This new layout also provides you with the opportunity to dominate the search landscape and provide as much relevant information as possible in order to increase the possibility of converting searchers into customers.
On the other hand, people might not know exactly where they want to go but know what they’re looking for and will therefore search for a more generic phrase. For example, if someone is looking for a “café in leederville” they will now be served with the results below which are not as rich as those relating to a specific ‘place’ but still dominate the search results. As you can see, the Google Places results now populate the majority of the page which shows the importance of ensuring that your business has a robust Google Places listing to gain a strong presence in the search results for relevant searches. Incorporating a Google Places strategy into your overall Online Marketing strategy will help to enhance your online presence and potentially gain new customers. Review sites are also gaining a stronger presence in the Google search results, particularly in the food and beverage industry with sites such as Eatability.com.au, Urbanspoon.com and yourrestaurants.com.au regularly appearing on the first page of search results and within the Google Places listings. These recent changes provide the opportunity for local businesses to gain visibility in the search engine results and attract more customers however, ensuring a strategic approach incorporating Brand Reputation Management is key to achieving long-term results.