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Understanding Google My Business & Local Search

Grey Pinned Results Now Live

Updated: 10:30 pm
Update: 3:00 am
Update: 11/2 11:00 am
Minor Update: 11/3 8:00am

Google has upgraded their local search results and the Grey pinned results are now live. Note in the screen shot that the branded One Box search now shows up to 4 5 images or a streetview and 2 images, although it depends on how many images are on the Places page. Google now notes that there may be two streetview images, an exterior AND and interior view. The grey “Feedback” link at the lower right takes the user directly to the Report a Problem input screen.

Essentially, Google is now surfacing the whole of the Place page content (what is left of it) on the main page of Google with the exception of the description. In the case of the branded search immediately, in the case of the blended and 7-pack results when you mouse over the -> to the right of any listing. It surfaces virtually all information in the Places page including up to the 5 photos AND a thumbnail of the home page.

In July when Google suggested that they would integrate some of the great information that’s been buried in Places it was hard to imagine something quite so bold as this. If users won’t go to Places, bring Places to them. It also puts the stripping down of Place page content into a bigger context, no more than can fit on the front page of Google.

Here is a slide show of various new views of local:

Thanks to Jeffrey Manger of TrumpetLocalMedia for the head up on the fact that this was rolling out. It broke just as I was getting ready to give my Getlisted Google Places presentation. I did the presentation twice today and it is ironic that a presentation can be outdated between the first and second one.

Here are more focused screen shot comparisons with some notes…

7-Pack Old Vs New Screenshot Comparison

Apparently the Grey Pin Upgrade is still rolling out. I am able to see the Grey Pins on Safari but Chrome is showing the Red Pin. The following images should the difference between the the Red Pack and the Grey Pack.

Several things of note:
-The Grey pack actually takes up MORE vertical screen space than the Red pack, despite the shift to the more rectangular map on the right.
-In the new Grey pack the Map, while continuing to display the same geographic area, actually gets larger as you increase the width of your screen. There appears to be three different Map sizes.
-Claimed listings really shine in the new environment. Google continues to show the Map but will show the webpage thumbnail if there is enough screen width, hours, transit stop, review links and when available, the sentiment snippets.
-The pin changes to Red and the Right Arrow are visible when mousing over any part of the listing
-In some ways, the change makes it HARDER to get to the actual Places page on claimed listings. As you move right and surface the arrow the choices allow the user to click on the Map which takes you into Google Maps, click on the website or read the additional review.

Click to view this slide show comparing the the old and new 7 packs on the same search:


Branded One Pack Comparison Old vs New Grey Pin Display

This slide show compares the Red Pin Branded One Box to the new Grey Pin ones. Several things of note
– Unlike in the 7-Pack, the site thumbnail is only visible and shows by itself when you mouse over the right arrow
– The number of photos displayed depends on the screen width. Google will show up to 5 if they are there and the screen is wide enough. As the screen size decreases, Google reduces the number of images that show
-The Adwords Express Ad shows a grey pin in the new display (the Blue Pin would show on the Map but is covered by the Red Pin). As noted in the comments, that throws out the idea of giving an additional visual boost to the ad
– Again, the description does NOT show only the sentiment snippets.

Here is a screenshot comparison:


Blended Comparison Old vs. New
Linda Buquet pointed out in the comments that the meta description is significantly shorter in the new Blended results
Phil Rozak noted that the Pins in the Map segment are hot and surface review stars and review sentiment when moused over

Here is the blended results before and after slide show:


Blended Comparison Old vs. New Adwords
-When you examine adwords, adwords with local extensions and Adwords Express, as Will Scott pointed out, the calculus changes
-The local pins on the ads are somewhat less visible than before in the ad but perhaps slightly more visible on the map
– However, Google is able to show 20-25% more ads on the right margin providing a boost to inventory space on the critical space above the fold on the first page of results. 20-25% more inventory on the two billion local searches adds up to a significant dollar amount.
– The regular adwords, because of the greying of the pins are now on more equal footing visually.

Here are some screen shots showing this affect:

Some quick take aways:
-Google continues to push organic results further down the page.
-The change did NOT highlight ads to any greater degree than before with the Pins, in fact perhaps less so.
-However, they are now able to show 20-25% more ads than before.
-It seems to me that surfacing virtually all of the Place Page information in the main search results will mean less visits to Place pages.
-If you had any doubt about the Place page being a search result, this should dispel that thought.
-The choice by Google to show the algo generated sentiment snippets and the lack of an owner provided description says what Google thinks about everybody’s entered description (hint: they think they are crap).
-Google really, really meant that they would be surfacing the hidden Places information

Where else can they surface?