Google recently announced that they are going to include Local Results in the OneBox feature of their search results.
Now I’ll try to explain that in English
Let’s say that you are looking for a trades person of some description to come and fix an electrical appliance. You might head over to Google and search for ‘[trade] [location]’ (replace with the relevant info).
Well now when Google ‘senses’ that you are looking for location-specific information they provide a nice map and some listings of local service providers:
[Edit: or let’s say you’re looking for a hairdresser in Harrogate :mrgreen:]
Now this currently does not work for Irish searches (we’re not important enough :(), and I doubt it’s going to appear any time soon.
According to Barry Schwartz over at SEL the US version also includes a rating system indicated by stars next to the listings, but I couldn’t see this from where I am located.
So how do you get into the local listings?
Well currently listing a local business on Google Maps is only possible in the following countries:
- United States
- United Kingdom
Users must validate there address with a PIN which is snail-mailed to that address. Once you’ve validated your site it has a chance to be returned in the Local Search results that now appear in OneBox.
Hang on a second. What the hell is OneBox
OneBox is an inserted ‘box’ of relevant info that Google decides to insert above the organic search results. You’ve probably come across OneBox if you’ve ever searched for weather related phrases:
or perhaps ticker symbols:
You can see that these results are not organic listings per-se.
From Google’s help pages:
Google’s search technology finds many sources of specialized information. Those that are most relevant to your search are included at the top of your search results. Typical onebox results include news, stock quotes, weather and local websites related to your search.
(Hat tip to Bill Slawski at SEL for finding that.)
Who cares? I’m in Ireland…
Well chances are that this technology will be rolled out across more markets in the coming months/years. The biggest impact will be on websites targeting local search phrases. I see a lot of localised searches here in Ireland (e.g. ‘[search phrase] dublin’ or ‘[search phrase] ireland’).
If local search is rolled out in Ireland you might find that your coveted number #1 rank in Google for ‘estate agent ballsbridge’ suddenly becomes a number 4 or 5 spot after that big eye-catching map and those very relevant local listings.
Marry those local listings with a ratings system (which plugs into the social aspects of search) and it might turn out that few people bother to scroll any further down the page beyond the local results that appear in the OneBox.
Of course one person’s threat is another person’s opportunity. Worth keeping in mind I think.