Google Maps & Web Designers: Salt in the Wounds

With the recent brouhaha over the missing 7 packs for SEO and Web Designers due to “lack of local intent” on the part of searchers, you would think that Google would have the common sense not to rub salt in the wounds. Well, you would have thought wrong.

Whether by intent or accident, Google is still showing an Adwords campaign when a user searches on the phrase “web design + city” that offers up (of all things) a free Places page as a solution to the query:

I am no Adwords expert, nor do I know the rules by which Google decides to run their own ads vs. those of paying customers. However in this particular campaign, ads always appear as the first ad in the upper right corner of the main search results page, big city or small, US or Canada. It is hard for me to imagine how an ad for a Places page would have a very high quality score on this particular search.

To say the least, I have always thought that Google lacked a certain finesse in their PR moves in Maps. They seem to possess a veritable tin ear when it comes to interacting with the local web design and search industries that serve SMBs and as Miriam so eloquently points out, it must be baffling for any SMB attempting to interact with them.

Regardless of the reasons that Google pulled the 7-pack for those in web design and marketing, this ad ends up looking like Google is the beach bully attempting to kick sand in everyone else’s face. There has to be a better way to market the Local Business Center.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Maps & Web Designers: Salt in the Wounds by

8 thoughts on “Google Maps & Web Designers: Salt in the Wounds”

  1. Hi Mike

    This is the very issue that is leading to “search neutrality” discussions. Google is now hurting the same SEO companies that help build it. The internet and Google did not grow in a vacuum. It took us coders and HTML experts to get the thing started. Now they are pulling revenue streams from 100’s of thousands of companies.

    I have commented before that Maps is really just driven by an algorithm. It does seem that this “tweak” was done for monetary reasons over a better search experince. It also gives me pause to think about the other verticals they compete in. Maybe the organic search and PPC ads are slanted that way too. Maybe that’s why they are gaining market share without large traditional ad budgets.

    Google has every right to serve results as it sees fit. With that power, comes responsibility. They might be inclined to look at a founding statement for guidance. Shutting out SEO’s seems a bit evil.

  2. sigh..the target on our SEO practitioner’s backs seems to grow, eh? I do hope that G approaches this with a “mea culpa” attitude, followed by a fix for us of that ilk.

    that said, I’m not counting on it….and the word “in” is now so important…wonder if I should add it to my own site’s tags, eh?



  3. Aside from salt on the wound, it is startling that the ad is always the top ad on the right hand side of the page. In my experiments it doesn’t matter whether there were two ads or 3 ads on the left above the organic results.

    Hm…I may have to rethink my ppc placement. Is google telling me that the top ad on the right is better than the most expensive ad if its on the left hand side of the page and above the organic results?

    I think its giving me a signal.

  4. Yes, yes, go right ahead and build your company’s website with a Free Google Webpage. Why hire a pro? None exist in your town, anyway. And, while you’re at it, why not sign up for some $9.99/month search engine submission services. Don’t forget to engage in several large reciprocal linking campaigns at a low-low cost. You’ll be off to a wonderful start on the web.

    Is my irony showing?

  5. Google still displays local results for “web design near city” like Web Design Near San Francisco, Ca

    For some reason their algorithm must have missed on that word?

    Same is the case every search I try using seo near city or web design near city.

    I thought they kept this because it obviously shows local intent, searching for a web designer near their location.

    Any thoughts?

  6. @Kyle

    Google doesn’t need to eviscerate every search to make finding those businesses a lot less likely. If someone is that motivated to include the extra words, in or near, then clearly Google has to cough up the answer sooner or later. While it clearly shows local intent to add the extra prepostions, I just can’t imagine any searcher after having just learned that service +city returns the business they are looking for would bother.


    You forgot to include in that $9.99 deal at least 10 top 7 placements in the 7 Pack guarantee


    I noted that Google always snared the upper right hand position, which was the reason I showed the second and third screen shots…It does seem to imply that is the most valuable spot.


    I wouldn’t take the target personally. They have investors to satisfy and growth plans that need feeding. You just happen to be the chum(p?).


    Clearly any PPC campaign in which Google promotes themselves, they obviously are taking favored positions.

  7. Mike
    good observations
    I guess Google figures that SEO’s are not really local fodder, (but an electrician that lives 20 miles outside of a large Metro area is)
    Until they really get an algorythmic grip on what local means ( because it is different in different places) there is bound to be a mess,

    and of course Google snags the most lucrative placement for it’s own marketing – that part does kind of make sense, especially if they plan on charging for the listings later
    (once everyone has gotten their business listed )

    I keep wondering why I am not dominating my local results- crap!
    …maybe it’s because I only got the $6.99 local domination package!

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