Google Maps now showing Local 10 Pack on Broad Non Geo Phrase Searches

Google is now showing the Local 10 Pack on broad single phrase searches with obvious local intent (nods to Florist SEO Watch who spotted this on Saturday and Cathy Rhulloda for pointing it out) without geo modifiers. In US searches, the Local 10 Pack appears on phrases such as
plumber
locksmith
dentist
lawyer
doctor
used car
florist
health food
computer repair

but currently not on the phrases new cars, web design or apartment rental. It is not clear how many and which phrases are being used but they are more common than not. The results appear to be using Google’s IP geotargeting and present regardless of browser type or whether the user is logged in. For me, the default results offered are in Buffalo, NY, over 70 miles away but there is an option to change location.

dentist


The development is similar to their more limited showing of a Local One Box for branded local results that started showing in February.

Providing these results on broad local searches for highly competitve and heavily spammed phrases like Locksmith reflects Google’s growing confidence in the quality of the search results.

In a post in the Google Maps forum specifically about the spammy Locksmith results Google Employee Joel H noted today: We’ve done some work on specific spammy locksmiths. We continue to double down on efforts here, and … we [have] something in the works to make this better. It won’t be perfect, but we think it’s a couple steps forward. We’ll make an announcement here once these changes have gone live.

This higher visibility is very positive and validates Greg Sterling’s view that research undercounts local searches and searches with local intent. One presumes that Google has tested this broadly and feels that the Unversal Local results provides increased relevance to these broad searches. Steve Espinosa in a prescient Local Search News article from February titled, The Downfall of Geo Modifiers, noted a nearly 700% rise in referrals when the geo modifier was not required.

Given the jump in visibility that Google has just offered up to local results, we hope that the steps Joel speaks of are large steps. Regardless, Local visibility has just taken a quantum leap and the flood gates are open!

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps now showing Local 10 Pack on Broad Non Geo Phrase Searches by

55 thoughts on “Google Maps now showing Local 10 Pack on Broad Non Geo Phrase Searches”

  1. This is quite big, Mike. On all of my searches that were bringing up a 10 pack, none were at the top of the page…all were in the middle as shown in your screenshot. Was this consistent for you, too?

    I’m assuming they are now doing this by the IP address of the searcher. Do you agree?

  2. Yes, not one showed up higher than the middle. Yes, they are using their ip geo location capabilities.

    It seems that the feedback that they get from this roleout will help them refine that as well…. IE if I note that I am in Olean then they will be able to refine and improve those IP geolocation capabilities.

    It is quite big. I can only imagine the frequency of a search like lawyers compared to lawyers NY NY. Both the users and the businesses will be rapidly educated about Google Maps!

    Mike

  3. I looked it up a quick search on Google Keyword tool for the word lawyer. Here are the top 20 searches by voulme for Feb. It will expand the 10 pack from being presented the previously 291,000 times to 17,814,500 times:

    Keywords

    Approx Search Volume: February
    lawyer 9140000
    lawyers 6120000
    injury lawyer 301000
    accident lawyer 301000
    criminal lawyer 201000
    divorce lawyer 165000
    personal injury lawyer 165000
    bankruptcy lawyer 135000
    divorce lawyers 135000
    defense lawyer 110000
    immigration lawyer 110000
    dui lawyer 110000
    lawyer attorney 110000
    chicago lawyer 110000
    malpractice lawyer 110000
    bankruptcy lawyers 110000
    accident lawyers 110000
    immigration lawyers 90500
    houston lawyer 90500
    los angeles lawyer 90500

    Thats a 61 fold increase of exposure if the 10 Pack is shown on all of those searches.

  4. This will be huge for local businesses appearing in the 10 pack. I know from running geo-targeted PPC that appearing for those broad terms brings local traffic and local leads/sales. Not as high a conversion as for the keywords that include the geo-qualifier of a city name, but still decent in some cases.

    I find a lot of people start their search with “lawyers” then realize its all national level stuff and then do the search a second time and stick the city name before or after. The more savvy and experienced searchers of course start by including a city name from the get go.

  5. Stever

    I think it will affect national brands as well….now when you search on McDonanald’s or even the word Burgers it impacts the results.

    It will certainly educate a large number of those non savvy users of about the presence of this data.

    Hmm…which might just lead to another huge jump in Maps visitation.

    Mike

  6. hmmm… might? It absolutely will give Maps a big boost.

    I get funkyer results because I’m in Canada. When I search in Google.ca for those broad terms I get the local 10pack at mid page, and its for my location. When I do the same search in Google.com the IP targeting shows I’m not in the USA so I get a little box to add a location. If i stick a US city in there I end up getting the 10pack at the top, instead of mid page, while all the organic results are the same broad level stuff.

    So, US based local SEO’s who want to check how their clients in other cities are ranking in the new broad keyword 10pack might want to try connecting to a proxy server outside the US so you can select the city you want.

  7. Yes I get McDonalds and Burger (king) mid page as well…but they have the top spots from corporate to local with little in between.

    So while the 10 Pack hasn’t been yet seen at the top spot on these non modified searches, it is still significant to all players, big and small as it appears above the fold on most every screen. Its highly visual nature could disrupt “normal” search behavior as well.

    I would presume but have not tested that the search for “Lawyers Olean NY”and “Lawyers” would offer pretty similar results but that is a great question.

    If Google is showing these local results, even if mid page, 60x (give or take several orders of magnitude 🙂 more frequently, Local will drive more local traffic and traffic to Maps….this change affects everybody from Mom & Pop, to McDonald’s and Mapquest.

  8. We all know that IP geo location is not 100% and we are seeing reports of this already. I had a client where his work IP was actually located two cities away. Thus serving up Google Local One Box results outside his area for these broad terms.

    We also noticed seeing these broad terms show up as early as mid-month for some brand new web sites. Once the story broke it all came a lot clearer.

  9. @Brent

    I am curious what the exact date (as close as you can recall) of your first documented “sighting”…. when you say you saw the results for some brand new website, what do you mean?

    Yes, I too see results way outside of my area but it does offer up the option to “Change location” on one of my providers and correct results on another. I presume it is the location of the pop.

    Mike

  10. OK, the only word I can think to describe my reaction to the Local Ten Pack showing up in one word searches is ‘giddy’. *pulls on armor for more spam patrol*

    Didn’t I tell you the local florists are the canaries in the coal mine? 🙂 We watch because we have to.

    And Greg Sterling is a genius, too. His assertions about local search being a far larger part of the market have been dead-on all along.

    Let’s just hope the Ten Packs get more ready-for-Prime-Time in the ‘usual suspect’ local categories.

    I did notice that in ‘thin content areas’, the Local results are down to Three Packs… which is a good thing. 🙂

    Again, thanks for the great issue coverage!

  11. @ Mike Boland

    Yes, the implications are huge….I am writing up a chart of who will be affected how…would love your opinion of it later today.

    @Cathy

    Yes florists are the canaries although they seem to now have to compete with Locksmiths for the crown. 🙂

    The opportunity value of spamming will increase…the same amount of work and now the result will be shown that much more widely. IF Google has not battened down the hatches it could get UGLY!

    Mike

  12. I’m getting it in Canada, same as SteveR, in at #5 mostly. What is interesting is that it doesn’t show up when using a provincial prefix (Ontario Doctor doesn’t trigger it).

  13. @Wayne

    I think that provincial and state level searches have and will continue to have their own logic vis a vis local.

    It has always seemed that the more rural and/or smaller the state the more likely to show a Universal Result. Also the lower frequency of a certain type of business, the more likely to show over a state wide area…

    So Connecticut Doctor has/will return a Local 10 Pack but Pennsylvannia Doctor will not.

    I think you might find the same in Canada. I don’t think this change affects to broad geo results returned.

    Mike

  14. @Mike

    True, but you would think (I know, I know) that it would make sense to serve up the local pack if someone had been specific in their intent to seek local results by use of provincial or state terms. It will be interesting to see where this goes as it matures.

    I’m sure it will be an interesting discussion when you post your chart. The implications for everyone will be slightly different, depending on their specific niche. I live in a very health-care oriented city so we’ll see if this rattles any trees. I have a few HC professionals as clients and so far the one good thing we’re seeing is that some of the lower grade “rate your doctor/dentist” sites are now pushed a bit further out of view.

  15. @Wayne

    One presumes that Google serves local content based on their analysis of intent. I have seen, in the past, these state wide requests serving local intent but then they dissappeared on most queries. So I assume Google testing and found that local content did not meet the needs of the searcher as well. I presume if the current new crop don’t get enough click throughs it will change again.

    That’s interesting that it is pushing those sites lower…any/every site that was there will be taking a hit.

  16. It gives me stomach pains every time Google does this kind of stuff. I have 10 employees who rely on Google for a large part of their business. I just hope this is a positive for us.

    I think they are using IP addresses to guess your local like they do with Adwords. I did a map search in a different area and still got local listings when doing another search.

    We have had a large increase in out of state calls from the web the last few days so maybe some people are hosted in our state and getting served out of state maps.

    I also noticed that the 10 pack comes up for some obvious terms but not others. I wonder if they will expand.

  17. @J.
    These changes are wrenching thats for sure. Going to be winners and losers big time in the change…as Wayne pointed out the IYPs/SMB Aggregators/Review sites are the likely ones to suffer.

    Mike

  18. I looked at my stats for the last week and I don’t see any traffic from the “big” words even though we are in 3rd place in the 10 pack on one of them. Maybe this is too late and most searchers have already learned to type in the area name or maybe my stats program is just not adequate in showing maps searches.

  19. Mike: This has been going on for some time….possibly 4-5 months. David Mihm either wrote about this or informed me of it several months ago.

    My experience has been that it is potentially significant. I’m sure it is somewhat a factor of the sophistication of searchers. On the other hand…about 2 years ago Greg Sterling reported from some research that approximately 50% of searches for services/products that are clearly local/regional in nature….were started via a search that simply has the generic industry term and no geo modifier.

    In my experience so far it is a sort of great equalizer. I’ve tested the 10-pac map for various generic industry terms in my rather large metro market. I kept inputting different zip codes in my computer. With different zip codes….different sets of businesses would show up for the 10-pac based primarily on location. I frankly didn’t deep analyze enough to determine if some businesses with generally killer local business rankings would continue to show up for different zip codes….but as I moved around the metro region using different zip codes I didn’t see duplicate businesses.

    (Just a thought…..this could be the ultimate spam killer for the locksmiths….assuming they haven’t registered every address in a metro region. :D).

    Its significant in my experience. Roughly I currently see about 40% of all my searches being ones with geo modifiers and about 30% being the industry phrase w/out geo modifiers. Since this has been in effect the searches for the non-geo modifiers (the number one term) have increased significantly.

    Dave

  20. Hi Mike,

    If you were logged into your google account then Google automatically showed local results for generic queries. I’m assuming this is based on past user search behaviour, user IP, or google maps association of your default location.

    If you were not logged into your google account, then the little box asking for your postal code, zip code or city.

  21. @Dev

    Right, so now its a bit more aggressive and everybody (signed in or not, preferences set or not) is assumed to have a location without having been asked the location question…if google gets it wrong you are given the choice to change it… the net result though is that local results are shown significantly more than in December because no action is required on the part of the user

  22. Dev, I’m almost always searching while logged in to my Google account, yet I never saw local results on generic queries before yesterday. Maybe you saw it because you gave them your address/city name at some point (in one of those dropdowns)?

  23. Matt, I would agree. One of my machines is logged in almost all the time and I hadn’t seen it until now (although FTR I am in Canada). It would be interesting to find out what triggered it for Dev.

  24. I was pretty surprised when I first saw the local results come up for generic queries, so I tried replicating the results on 4 different profiles and computers. If the google account was logged in while searching, the local results came up for all non local queries, and if it the account was signed out, Google would ask for a postal code or city name.

  25. @ Mike: My mistake on time frame. I learned about this phenomena late January thru David Mihm. It has been showing up for my business/site since then.

    It doesn’t discount the importance of long tail geo phrases for a business by any stretch of the imagination. It does add valuable relevance, though, and an additional tool for a business.

    Later this month I’m going to review traffic stats to try and ascertain the impact. I know traffic for the main business term picked up. I think the key will be in the number of conversions for the main (non-geo) business term…..associated with showing up highly in a map inserted into organic search.

  26. Dave

    What you saw in January, was this what Dev spoke of above: http://devbasu.com/google-suggest-local-search-keywords-generic-searches/ ? Where you had to give Google your location first? Or like it is now where it guesses your location without any input from you?

    I agree, it does discount the importance of long tail geo phrases in the organic results, those continue to be important particularly in adjacent markets. I always see local optimization as one part of the 3 legged stool (local, organic, ppc).

    Love to hear the results of your review

    Mike

  27. The results in Jan were not prompted by a question as Dev referenced and you are asking.

    I need to ultimately look at conversions. It appears there is a jump in conversions for specific search phrases in Google relevant to the main industry phrase, which has been portrayed by a 3 pac/10 pac since at least the end of Jan.

    Clearly organic visits for the phrase have increased. Unfortunately tracking conversion phrases is a bit time consuming…and I’m going out of town so I won’t look at this for a few weeks. My impression though is that the conversions for the non geo industry phrase have increased significantly…..and I believe that is a function of its appearance in Maps in organic searches.

  28. I’m going to apologise in advance and state that I have not read all the comments except the last few. Are we saying that this is now going to negate the locally optimized sites by ignoring the long tail phrases we’ve been so carefully crafting? Or might we still retain advantage here by our sites still being more of a match than “Joes Plumbing Emoprium” who simply happens to be in the same city with his single page site. Surely they (G) are not throwing everything else out.

    Visually I find the biggest factor to be that, especially on a laptop, it pushes #s 5-10 off the fold. May as well be page two on a small screen which is disappointing if you were comfortable in position six or seven.

    Once again, apologising in advance as I rush out the door. This is very interesting

    Wayne

  29. @Wayne, its pure speculation at this point as to how this may change search behavior over the long term. From the types of long tail searches I see being used it appears that many people, those VERY specific about what they are looking for, are not likely to change that habit. On the other hand long tail optimization on its own is not as effective with the Maps 10packs, it’s more for the organic side of things. In many cases those long tail phrases don’t even trigger a Map.

  30. Thanks Steve.
    Good, that matches with what I’m thinking (hoping is more accurate) but some comments on a few other blogs were getting me a tad concerned, hence my rushed post for clarification.
    So far I’m not really seeing a down side for my clients but that remains to be seen. As I commented in Mikes earlier post, at least one of my medical clients has benefited from other sites being pushed down the screen.

  31. @David

    While the capability isn’t new, the implementation is.

    To activate this feature, users can lookup their location in Google Maps and then specify that as their default location.

    What is new is the fact that users need to do nothing to “activate” this feature. Since no user setting is required Local results are now showing much more broadly.

  32. Mike: Its now been a couple of weeks w/ maps being shown for search phrases w/out geo terms.

    I’ve a couple of observations. As you know, it seems some terms were being shown on an organic search basis w/maps inserts as early as Late Jan. this year. It just didn’t get reported. For some businesses my main bus term was one of those topics.

    As of now I see a total of 6 terms wherein a search phrase w/out a geo modifier is accompanied by a map. The additional 5 terms include 2ndary terms. In fact they include the 5 best industry 2ndary terms.

    But…that is the limit. Still other industry terms are not accompanied by a map. Google has expanded and has been rolling out this new process. Its fascinating.

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