Google over the last few days has updated its search results pages for Google Places. With a touch of Bing inspiration, the new search results enable you to view the website page before clicking through to it by clicking on the magnifying glass.
The following search for “turf supplier brisbane” shows the new format of the search results page.
Relevant text from the website page is displayed in the side pop-out. Click on any magnifying glass to view the website summary pop-out. Another change is that the map has now moved to the right hand column above Sponsored Links (Google AdWords).
Google Place pages and reviews are also displayed within search results, encouraging users to learn more about the business in a trusted environment. This signals the importance of small and large businesses alike generating positive reviews about their products and services.
The comments from the Search Media industry are that the new Google Place search results indicate another step towards the death of Yellow Pages and other directory businesses around the world.
Google claims that they “clustered search results around specific locations so you can make comparisons and right the best sites”. I think they meant “rate the best sites” as star ratings are also displayed alongside search results.
The “Places” link is available in the left hand navigation links to display only local website listings.
The downside from a user and a business perspective, in my opinion of course, is that the maps box with 10 listings has been removed and now local search results dominate the page. Organic search results are pushed even further down the page, although if Places results are not as relevant to the search query, they too can be pushed down the results page. This may also have an impact for advertisers who rely upon Google AdWords as a way to generate traffic for local terms.
Overall, I find this change quite encouraging as it presents a range of opportunities to businesses.