Google Places in Search Results – Why No Choice?
Last October Google instigated a major change in the way it presented its search results, with Google Places listings given greater prominence for “local” searches, for instance looking for a plumber, dentist, hotel, restaurant etc in a given location. Here is what results have tended to look like since that date, taking “B&B near Rouen” as an example:
This was hailed by Google as a great step forward, improving relevance of search results. The focus for SEO gurus/experts since then has been to encourage business owners to optimise their “Google Places” listing.
However, in the case above I was looking for a place to stay NEAR Rouen – not in the MIDDLE of Rouen – yet these results are useless as all the places are in the CENTRE of Rouen, which if you know it is a nightmare to get in and out of!
That may be a minor quibble, but there are two bigger snags with the current Google Places set up that do not seem to get much of an airing.
- From the point of view of a business, what about the PC repair man whose physical address is in Bromley, but who also services Orpington, Greenwich and Sevenoaks? His website previously got him listed for those local searches organically, but now he doesn’t have a shot at getting found near the top of Google results for any locations outside the town where he’s physically registered. Frequently, relevant organic results are now pushed out of sight, either at the foot of or right off the page.
- From the point of view of a Google user, what if I want to be able to turn off the Places results? Sometimes – many times – I don’t want them. Before the user had an option to search Google Maps to get local Places results, but now there is no corresponding option to exclude Places when they are not relevant – the choice has actually been restricted. Does this really improve the search experience?
Come on Google, at least give us a choice!