Well it’s been 2 weeks since I announced the new Google search results layout and new merged Local and organic ranking algo. Oops no, sorry, have not talked about the algo yet. I’ll save that for another post. 😉 But the layout changes are still rolling out and it appears Google is still testing.
I have the new Google algorithm about figured out, but everything is still in serious flux and the layout and rankings change constantly between browsers, cities, keywords and keyword order. So nothing is consistent yet. For some of your keywords Google shows the new results, for some the old results and for some no map at all. Plus if you search keyword 1st or city 1st or no city you can see all different results too. Literally every time you look it may be different.
So since I’ve done so much testing to figure out the new algo, I thought I’d do a blog post showing some of the different types of layouts out there right now. If your SEO or marketing partner (that includes me, for my clients) can’t give you a ranking report – below is the reason why. NOTHING is consistent!
Search: Dentist Houston (Note search order – keyword then city)
Here is what I refer to as the new standard localMerge layout. This market features 8 localMerge listings and then about 5 organic underneath, but many of the organic listings are directories so there is only room for a couple organic Dental listings on page one.
The localMerge layout is basically an organic listing merged with and stacked on top of a Google Places listing. Some elements of each are featured. Meta title and description or some page content from the web site. The image is from the Place page. Address, phone and reviews, if any, from the Place page.
Map moved to right, scrolls with you as you move down the page.
Search: Dentist Tampa (Note SAME search order as above – keyword then city)
However in this query Google is showing the new OLD style 7 pack type of listing. With just small listings pulled from data in Places and no meta data or site content. (And you can’t see it, but it’s the OLD local ranking algo, not the new localMerge ranking algo) 😉
Search: Tampa Dentist (Note SAME keywords REVERSE order)
OK now it gets even more interesting. Tampa Dentist and Dentist Tampa are 2 completely different layouts and algos.
This particular layout is a little different than Houston too in that there are 2 pure organic listings on top, then 7 localMerge listings, then 6 more organic.
WAIT… it gets even better and more convoluted!
Search: Tampa Dentures (Note City 1st)
This search phrase has 1 localMerge, 2 organic, then 1 localMerge, then 6 organic.
However if a patient searches in reverse order, it shows the old 7 pack payout and algo.
Other variations include the old 2 and 3 pack style listings. And if you are VERY lucky you can still get one of the BIG ONE PACK LISTINGS all by yourself. I still have a bunch of one box listings for my clients.
However keep in mind, the layout and rankings change constantly between browsers, cities, keywords and keyword order, where you are searching from and whether you are logged into Google or not! By the time you read this, everything could change. Nothing is consistent yet.
Additionally there are massive problems. Many, many users in the Google support forum are reporting MASSIVE amounts of lost reviews. Some users have lost over 100. It’s such a big problem that InfoWorld even reported on it.
Many are losing citations, just the past few days. Many are having their Place pages pulled off the net altogether due to rejected status for a variety of guideline violations.
So if you think you are seeing things, when every time you check your rankings things look different… it’s Google!
If you think your SEO has lost their mind or can’t give you a straight answer about anything… it’s Google!
If no one can give you ranking reports for awhile… it’s Google.
And if you wonder when Google will quit testing and the dust will settle… well it’s all up to Google. 🙁
As I always tell me clients, I can’t CONTROL Google, but there are few people as on top of the changes and constantly working to leverage that knowledge into better rankings for clients than I am.
There is a BIG window of opportunity here for those that understand what the change means. Everyone that’s ranking on top right now in the new localMerge format, just got lucky and happened to do several things right, but most don’t understand how they got there. Therefore they don’t know how to move up or how to STAY on top.
On the FLIP side there are a bunch of companies that HAD high organic rankings and a Place page but they aren’t LISTED AT ALL in the new merge format now. These companies also have no clue why! Many of those organic rankings are now pushed back to page 2 because the new merged listings take so much room and the directories and Yellow page results are also taking up space.
Just like for a long time hardly anyone could figure out the old Google local algo, and even prior to 10/27 very few did. Now with this change there is a big opportunity for those that figure out how to rank on top in the new localMerge algo. It takes a lot more than just having a Place page to be on top. And it takes a lot more than just having good organic SEO to be on top. It takes a special hybrid combo of BOTH now to rank well.
But EVEN if you have a highly optimized Place page AND a well optimized site you still may not get to page one, unless you work with someone that knows all the ‘hooks’ to make it all work!
I’m thinking about changing my title from Google Places Optimization Specialist to Google Local INTEGRATION Specialist. 🙂
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