NetAffinity

Paid Search occupies less real estate: The new location of the map, in the upper right, takes the place of three sponsored links, pushing them down and resulting in fewer ads being displayed above the fold. The map also covers additional ads by floating as the user scrolls down the page. This could potentially drive up the cost of ads in position 1-3 (at the top of the page) and diminish the amount of traffic driven through ads 4-10 (traditionally along the entire right hand side of the SERP).

Maximum of one placement in organic results: In the past, those websites that had strong SEO and local exposure could potentially occupy a position in the 7-pack as well as in the main organic section. With the merger of the traditional organic algorithm and the local search algorithm, these positions have also merged, offering only one opportunity per website.

Increased importance on Place page verification and optimization – Now that elements of the local algorithm play a huge role in ranking, and Place page optimization is believed to be a very important factor in the local algorithm, it is very important to continue to optimize and remain active within your business’s Place page. Be sure to post photos, videos and strategically select business categories in order to send the right signals to Google for your Place page.

UGC (user generated content) is more prominent in new results – Not only are actual, verbatim user reviews populating in the new Place search, but a cluster of direct links to review sites such as TripAdvisor.com and Yelp.com are also displayed. This requires increased engagement with users and monitoring of your online reputation and puts user experience, both on and offline, in the cross hairs. Now that reviews are front and center, strong ranking could be a double-edged sword if a negative review is the one Google picks to display.

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