I made a discovery about a new Google front page search results format that Google is testing that could RADICALLY change the SEO game, make the LOCAL listings almost 4 times bigger, push organic rankings way down the page and make LOCAL Google Places, an even more of important place for local businesses to be! I broke the story a couple weeks ago via the #1 blog in the Google Local industry because everyone reads it.

I was so inundated with calls and emails after breaking that story, that I never even had a chance to blog about it here. I shared other screen shots and insights over there, but here I’ll just share one. YOU JUST NEED TO SEE THIS, then scroll down for my insight/analysis.

This is page 1 above the fold – LOCAL (Places) Listings on top
Organic listings pushed way down and fewer on page one.

I’m not sure why, but I was sitting on a Google datacenter test server that hardly anyone else could see. The above test was from Raleigh, but I’ve seen similar results in Dallas, Chicago, Charlotte and some other cities. Recently others have started seeing these results in other cities too including LA.

Here are some of the key differences I observed:
1) The Places listings are 3 times BIGGER and look like the organic results except they have a map pin.

2) It’s pulling meta description from the site – just like organic. PLUS it adds some snippets from reviews on the Place page. So best of both worlds and BIGGER!

3) As you scroll down the MAP scrolls with you. So even when you are at bottom of page in the organic listings the map moves down and shows on right.

4) ONLY 7 (purely) organic listings show and in this instance most are directories or assn. Only 2 are Dentists.

5) To get on the top TWO screens you need to be in local. Most of the organic are 2 screens BELOW the fold.

6) Reviews are more prominent

7) Link to Place Page is marked as such, instead of just “More Info” which means better branding and name recognition for Google Places

I’m not going to repeat everything I posted over there, so if you want to know more, head over to Mike’s blog to read the full story and see all the other screen shots I did. Some have a different layout with 3 organic above the local listings.

Now after we broke the story on Mike’s blog, Google sent their publicist over there to say that this is only a test. So the actual version they roll out could be different than this layout. But make no mistake Google IS going to be making Google Places the focus for a number of financial reasons I won’t go into in this post.

CHECK BACK FOR MY NEXT POST to see an ACTUAL change Google JUST MADE in a 7/0 update, that moves in the direction of the layout above. I’m going to share a #1 ON BOX ranking I just got for a client that shows the NEW Google ONE BOX format.

ALSO if you just LOST a bunch of your precious patient reviews on your Google Place page like TONS of other Google users did, I’ll have some answers about that. It has to do with the update above.