Back in April, we noted that Google was about to escalate the so-called “location wars” by reworking and rebranding their Locale Business Center as Google Places. They’ve since done a lot of work on improving the area (despite an on-again/off-again war with Yelp over results) and they’re clearly feeling good about it. How do I know? Because starting today, they’re going to add Place results to Google Search in a major way.
Place Search will now reside on Google.com when you’re doing a search that Google believes is attempting to discover a location. And it will also have a home in the left toolbar (you know, where “Images”, “Videos”, “Shopping”, etc reside) as “Places”, which a user can click on to just get location results.
In their blog post, Google notes:
One of the great things about our approach is that it makes it easier to find a comprehensive view of each place. In our new layout you’ll find many more relevant links on a single results page—often 30 or 40. Instead of doing eight or 10 searches, often you’ll get to the sites you’re looking for with just one search. In our testing Place Search saves people an average of two seconds on searches for local information.
While it’s in the process of rolling out, you can use this link to see what it will look like. As you can see, a search for “Chicago museums” will bring up seven or so museums place pages it believes you may be looking for. If you want more of these place suggestions, you can click on the “more results” link at the bottom of the seven. Or you can click on the Places left sidebar item.
The big question, of course, is what this means for all of Google’s competitors also in the location space? You’ll note that Google rather prominently links to results from sources of place information like Yelp and CitySearch, so some of them could actually benefit from this new style of result. Still, many of them will no longer be the number one result for specific place searches. That could hurt.
That said, this new layout should be much easier for people doing the actual searches to parse and find what they’re looking for.
For their part, Google should make a killing on the sponsored links related to place searches. As you can see below, they’re already populating a ton of these right below the all-important map on the right side. Many place results have sponsored links along the top as well.