This morning I sat down at my computer to perform some of my normal keyword research on Google, only to be greeted with an “update” Google apparently made over night. In this update Google has significantly changed the way they handle the local results set by completely integrating them with the organic results (only showing up for me in Google Chrome, so may be a test). In the below example search, there are two organic results, then seven local results (that appear like organic results) followed by five more organic results. This change makes a significant difference for the organic SEO’s out there; if you have a result set that competes with local search results, you really have to be in the top 2 for the results to show above the fold. If you were previously ranking at spot three for the results set below, you would now be beneath seven local results before your keyword would show. Google also cuts back the organic result set from ten results to seven, kicking an additional three results off the first page.
The second person this effects is the SEM user that relies on Google AdWords clicks. With this change, Google has implemented a map that follows you down the page as you scroll. This is interesting for the local results, but covers up the ads in the right bar as you scroll.
I’m not sure why Google would want to cover up what makes them their profit, but this new update does not seem to be completely well thought out. I know that local search will continue to get more and more popular with time, but this new results set seems to tailor directly to the local results set, while negatively affecting everything else.
Here is a before and after screen shot.
What are your thoughts? Do you like this change? Do you think it will stay this way, or is it simply a test Google is doing?