The whole Google search landscape is changing over the next few days. Are you ready?

Back in July I broke a major news story about changes to the main Google search results page that were being tested. Well Google is all done testing and WOWSER the new results are already rolling out internationally! I knew it was coming, but didn’t think it would happen this fast. This is a RADICAL departure from the current search results page layout and will have a big impact on Google Places local maps ranking, organic ranking, Adwords and directories.

MUCH BIGGER LOCAL LISTINGS WITH MORE INFO AND PICTURES
PUSHES THE ORGANIC LISTINGS WAY DOWN THE PAGE!

If you still have the old layout, look at the difference. Before it was 7 TINY listings next to the map, then there was room for 4 organic listings above the fold. Now as you see above 5 local listings (marked with map pins) that take up the whole screen. If you scroll down there are 2 more local listings and THEN organic listings. So organic is pushed WAY down.

THE CHANGES – So in a quick nutshell, the map is on the right and scrolls down the page with you. The Google Places (local map) listings are much bigger and are like a combined local and organic ranking. The big difference is that local listings that are driven by Place pages and the LOCAL ranking algo are MUCH more prominent and organic rankings are pushed way down the page.

One of the biggest changes Dentists need to be aware of, initially at least, is that is that now the 1st picture on your Google Place page will also now show up in the search results. So be sure your Place page is claimed and you have a good image posted. Note the image above: The Dentist in the #1 spot, has no picture. He hasn’t even claimed his Place page. If he had a picture his listing would stand out more like the others do.

Local rankings are going through MAJOR changes and no one has completely figured out the new algo yet. So far all my Dentists I’ve checked have had their rankings go UP (knock on wood) but I’m sure some will go down as well. It looks to me at 1st glance as if the local rankings are now somewhat tied to organic. So if you are optimized well for local but NOT for organic, you won’t rank as high as you used to. On the other hand one of my new Dentists that has 0 reviews and is in a SUPER competitive city near LA currently comes up about #50 for Dentist +city with the old layout, but with the new layout he’s #1 because I optimized his local well PLUS he has a high organic ranking.

Here is the official Google announcement with some screen shots.

Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information

Place Search is rolling out now and will be available globally in more than 40 languages in the next few days. During the roll-out process you can use this special link to preview the new results. Our goal is to help you feel like a local everywhere you go!

There is a link at the bottom of that post where you can test to see how you’ll rank in the new results.

Still digesting all the changes. Will post more when I can.