Making Local Search work in New Zealand using Google Places

Back in March we posted about Local Search Optimisation and while most of what we said back then is still relevant today, Google has recently made some changes, so we thought it was time to do a bit of an update on this increasingly important subject.

For a start, Google has changed the name of the site where you can claim your business listing that appears on Google Maps. It is no longer called the “Local Business Center”, now it is just called “Google Places”.

But the really big change that Google released at the end of October is the change to how “Places” have been integrated into the search results.

As a reminder, here is what a search for “north shore dentist” used to look like:

And here is what the same search returns today:

Now that doesn’t really look all that different, we still have a 7 pack of local results and 10 standard search results, but now the map has moved to a new location above the AdWords ads in the right hand column (note that the map stays in the same place as you scroll, covering up the ads which seems an unusual move seeing as the ads are how Google makes most of their money), and now the address is shown as well as the phone number.

But what if we try a different search?

This time, the local search results have been fully integrated into the 10 natural search results, plus we also have images, reviews and star ratings taken from the relevant Google Places page for each business.

This goes to show just how important it is that your website’s search engine optimisation strategy incorporates local search, and to make sure you have claimed and properly filled in your Google Places page.

Contact First Rate for professional SEO advice today.