Google makes updates that will affect local search marketers

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Google has made changes this week to local search results and Google Maps that will impact retailers and service providers with physical locations.

Ads in Local Finder results

Local SEO specialist Brian Barwig was among those who have noticed the ads appearing in the Local Finder results — reached after clicking “More places” from a local three-pack in the main Google search results.

The addition of the ads (more than one ad can display) in the Local Finder results means retailers and service providers that aren’t featured in the local three-pack have a new way of getting to the top of the results if users click through to see more listings. (It also means another haven for organic listings has been infiltrated with advertising.)

The ads in the Local Finder rely on AdWords location extensions just like Google Maps, which started featuring ads that used location extensions when Google updated Maps in 2013. Unlike the results in Maps, however, advertisers featured in Local Finder results do not get a pin on the map results.

A Google spokesperson didn’t offer further details other than to say, We’re always testing out new formats for local businesses, but don’t have any additional details to share for now.”

Google Maps is no longer considered a Search Partner

Google has also announced changes to how ads display in Google Maps. Soon, Google will only show ads that include location extensions in Maps; regular text ads will not be featured. The other big change is that Google Maps is no longer considered part of Search Partners. Google has alerted advertisers, and Maps has been removed from the list of Google sites included in Search Partners in the AdWords help pages.

This change in Maps’ status means:

1. Advertisers that use location extensions but had opted out of Search Partners will now be able to have their ads shown in Maps and may see an increase in impressions and clicks as their ads start showing there.

2. Advertisers that don’t use location extensions but were opted into Search Partners could see a drop in impressions and clicks with ads no longer showing in Maps.

The move to include Maps as part of Google search inventory will mean more advertisers will be included in Maps ad auctions. The emphasis on location extensions is in line with Google’s increasing reliance on structured data and feeds, as retailers participating in Google Shopping can attest.

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