The bottom line is this. Google moved a significant internal player (Marissa Mayer) into the local space. They claim that over 20% of total searches have a local element. Now, they are making much more room for these listings in places that are normally reserved for Google’s holy grail, the paid search ad. You don’t need to be first in your class to see that Google is banking on local for the future and that more monetization techniques (i.e. the introduction of Boost) are just around the corner.
Here are some screen shots of the new look local SERP’s. I won’t explain everything to you because you can see the implications yourself and there has been a very good overview of these new results pages done by Greg Stirling over at Search Engine Land.
Here’s what I will say though. While these changes are something that our industry will get giddy over it won’t mean much unless something happens. That something is that Google and the rest of the industry gets the word out to all businesses and they do it in plain English. Drop the code words and industry speak. It’s lame. If we want to talk to each other in local search geek that’s fine but let’s start teaching the people who need to do this for their business, the SMB (small and medium business) owner and marketer, and let’s stop confusing them.
I have proposed this at other times but after a recent experience I had at LMX (Local Marketing Expo) in Virginia Beach, VA I truly think this is the way that Google needs to go. They need to hire a person (more like a lot of people) who will translate their engineering brilliance into terms that regular people can hear and apply. I know it sounds silly but even Google makes mistakes and the biggest one they are making now is not talking in plain English to the people who need these services desperately.
I don’t think it’s malicious or even intended but it’s real. It will keep even the mighty Google from making the money and having the impact that it truly could have for the vast majority of businesses in the US, the SMB. If Google would just talk in plain English and stop thinking that just because some engineer used his/her logic to explain a process ‘clearly’ that everyone will get it, we will all be better off.
The reality is that most don’t get it because they are business people and not engineers. In fact, most people don’t use Google like Google thinks. I would love to know what their predictions are of how many people will actually find and click on the Places link on the left side of their homepage in order to get more Place Page info. Why? I know a local leader of a chamber of commerce that still types a URL into the Google search bar to get to a site. Does that sound like someone who understands Google? There are a lot of people like this but Google rolls on like everyone just gets it. They are wrong.
But I guess I am asking a lot from a company that has a CEO that seems to think the more bizarre the claim the better it is for the company.
What’s your take?