Enhanced Listings in Local Search

When local businesses want to get noticed, what’s the best method? SEO, Social Media, Adwords? Other platforms such as Yelp and Yellow Pages have also shown promise and been generating a substantial amount of traffic. So much so, Google recently decided to take its local results one-step further and attempt to take a chunk out of the Yellow Pages’ profits at the same time.

Google Quietly Introduces ‘Enhanced Listings’

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Google is charging businesses in Houston, TX and San Jose, CA a straight $25 a month for a yellow flag. This little flag goes beneath their local listing to help bring attention to their listing, but it also links to the page of your choice to help convert visitors. This sounds expensive at first, but when you consider the cost of other local advertising methods, SEO, and even services such as Yellow Pages, it’s easy to see the value in a service like this.

The Benefits of the New ‘Yellow’ Listings

Even if a business is already at the top of the local SERPs, this little yellow flag has the potential for making a big difference. First, it makes the listing jump off the page, and that’s never a bad thing. However, this may diminish as the idea gains popularity.

Being able to link to virtually any page gives businesses the perfect opportunity to integrate their listing with their marketing strategy. A restaurant, for example, could link directly to a menu and online order page. Or, it could link to a coupon to encourage visitors to come in. A page listing special sale items, an introduction to the organization or even just a special welcome video at the top of the home page can also be helpful here.

For Google, it has the potential for being a serious cash cow. At $300 USD a year, that translates into $2,100 USD for the seven pack per year, and that’s just for one keyword. Aside from a bit of extra accounting, this thing has no negative effects for the search giant.

Google’s ‘Enhanced Listings’ Aren’t All Sugar and Spice

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Before handing over that coveted $25, there are a few serious things to think about. First of all, this yellow flag will be essentially useless if the business isn’t included in the seven pack, but it’s easy to see a number of businesses will eagerly hand over the cash without realising this.

The line between paid or ‘sponsored’ listings and organic listing are being further blurred with this new system. This brings into question Google’s fairness and ethics to start. If it continues along this line, it will essentially have pages of paid listings. Should they? It might not get that far because it wouldn’t be in the best interests of the user, but it certainly could.

More emphasis on the seven-pack also means regular users could potentially pay less attention to anything else on the page since these listings push the regular results farther towards the fold. It also means there will be even more pressure on SEOs to get these companies into that top seven listings.

Lastly, this type of offering cuts out the ‘certified dealers’ and forces businesses to go directly to Google. So, this not only cuts out a profit opportunity and a chance to ‘game’ the listings, but you also can’t help but wonder what kinds of personal and private information they’ll be able to collect in the meantime. After all, it’s pretty obvious that if this goes well, Google will continue to build on this concept.

No Guarantees for Top Position

It’s important to note the $25 simply gives you a yellow flag linked to whatever you’d like. None of the articles say anything about guaranteeing a position when you pay the money. They only mention the enhancement to an existing listing, so if you aren’t already in the 7-pack, it won’t show up in the first page universal SERPs.

Google is simply testing this at the moment, so there’s no mention of when it will be rolled out both in the US, and here in the UK and Ireland.

It’s not buying top positions, it’s not a ranking factor, and it’s not guaranteeing traffic, but it is certainly changing the game by adding a new dimension.

What are your thoughts? Would you like this rolled out? Is it worth the cash?



3 Responses to “Enhanced Listings in Local Search”

  1. RyanNo Gravatar Says:

    Great post, Just as I am starting to understand this black art Google goes and changes the goals posts. I hope this never makes it past the testing stages! Bigger companies will have even more of an advantage over the smaller SME’s out there.

  2. MichaelNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    If it does get rolled out it’s only a minor change and it only applies to Local Search. Initially it could certainly improve click thru rates, especially if the uptake is slow.

    Google is always looking at new ways to improve the SERPS and increase revenue. There’s always more things to get to grips with as nothing stays the same.

  3. Jordan McClementsNo Gravatar Says:

    Sneaky effers!

Michael Wall

Michael Wall is an experienced web developer based in Belfast N.Ireland currently running his own web design company.

Michael Wall is available for Internet Marketing, Google Adwords PPC and SEO work. Please call Belfast 02890 923383 or use the contact form.

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