Posted to Ben Finklea's blog on November 18th, 2010

Google’s Places/Organic Mashup and What Does It Mean?

In case you have been living under a rock, here’s a news flash: Double rainbows are awesome. Oh, and also Google has made some changes to how they integrate organic and local results. This new presentation, called Place Search, moves local map results to the right column and integrates meta data, address, phone number and reviews into results. Another interesting feature of the map is that it scrolls down the side of the screen as you scroll down.

How Google presents results is still highly dependent on search terms. Here is a search for “pizza austin.”

For this search, Google displays seven Places results (A thru G) before showing five organic non-Places results.

“Austin pizza” shows four organic results then seven Places results, then six more organic results.

Simply searching “pizza” from our Austin-based office yields (deep breath) four organic results before seven places results without meta descriptions, then five organic results, Google images for pizza, another organic result, news for pizza and books for pizza.

In addition, the elements surrounding search vary. There are two paid results above organic results and five paid results below the map on the right column on the page. On the far left column, there is also more options to explore further including Timeline, Wonder wheel and Something different results.

So, what do these changes mean and how will they effect search? Frankly, the verdict is still out since there is still so much variation. However, it likely points to a trend where Google is attempting to make search more location-based.

Here at Volacci, we are still analyzing the effects this has on rankings as Google continues to roll out these changes. What have you found so far? What effect have the changes had on your site or your client’s sites?