Today, Google launched a totally new search result page (SERP) for keywords with local intent. The new layout sports a static map on the right sidebar and local results incorporated into the natural search results. Google began testing this layout back in the summer, but has now officially launched to all users.
Effects of the New Layout
What impact will this new layout have?
From a ntural search perspective, claiming and optimizing your local listings in Google is more important than ever. In many cases, local results take up most of the real estate on the SERP, edging out natural results. Also, if your site was ranking both naturally and locally, those results have been merged into on cohesive result. By having a quality local listing complete with information, media, and reviews, you can make sure your site is ranking well.
The new layout affects PPC as well. The static map on the right downplays the prominence of the ads along the side of the results page, while the pink background of the top ads stands out just enough from the natural results to draw your attention. This could lead to increased competition for those top ad positions, driving up CPC on keywords that trigger local results.
The new layout is definitly a bold move by Google. It significantly changes the way that users interact with both Google Places and AdWords ads. In the long run, any site that takes a well rounded approach to search marketing, integrating SEO, local optimization, and PPC, will continue to perform well.