May 162012

Today I’m noticing a lot of local queries return very few organic search results. The Google Places results are still 7, but the organic results are 2 or 3 in the majority of the cases:

Fewer Local Organic Results

Click to enlarge

And I managed to reproduce this for queries ranging from “Plumber New York” (see above), to “Hotel Los Angeles“, to “Florist Montgomery” – practically almost every local query.

I haven’t yet had the time to investigate further on what might be causing this. This was first spotted for a limited number of local search queries on a few days ago by Sebastian Socha (article in German).

Are you seeing the same results as me?

  6 Responses to “Are Local Organic Search Results Getting Lesser?”

Comments (6)
  1. Hey Nyagoslav,

    Interesting stuff…thanks for posting!

    I’m actually not seeing the same results. Did “plumber New York,” and I see 8 organic results. 10 results for “plumber,” with New York as the search location. Same story when I type in “hotel New York” and “hotel.”

    Same thing when I search for “hotel Boston” and “hotel” (in Boston). Interestingly, though, I only 7 organic results when I type “plumber” in Boston and when I type “Boston plumber.”

    So the specific numbers seem to be all over the place. Some of the organic results are local (obviously), but you’ve got the Expedias, Travelocitys, and Wikipedias of the world in there as well. In any case, definitely a departure from the standard 10 we’re all used to seeing.

    As for what’s causing it…who knows!

    • Hey Phil,

      Thanks for the comment! Actually, when I checked yesterday a couple of hours after I posted the article, I was seeing exactly what you describe, i.e. as it had always been. However, today AGAIN I see only 2-3-4 organic web results together with the 7-pack. I’m more than sure an update is on the way, but it seems like it’s just being rolled out and it takes some time for everything to settle.

  2. Hey Nyagoslav,

    I concur. There really does seem to be some change afoot. I noticed something weird yesterday, which may be semi-relevant: the area in the GP 7-pack that used to have the description tag actually reappeared. Here’s a screenshot:–5-16-12.jpg

    What’s weird is it wasn’t straight-up description tags: in some cases what showed up in the former description tags area were keyword-relevant excerpts from the homepage, which weren’t necessarily the description tags of those pages. Kind of like how it’s always been, where if you don’t have a description tag Google will excerpt your page and show those ~150 characters in the SERPs.

    What’s weirder is that some businesses in the 7-pack – like “A” – didn’t have any description-tag-like info show up, even though they have websites.

    What’s weirdest is I saw this for a couple other searches I typed in, but haven’t seen it since yesterday.

    I may be missing some simple explanation, but I mention this because it comes at the same time you noticed the strangely-short organic SERPs.

    • Hey Phil,

      Hm, I think this problem with the descriptions is a little separate from the one with the decreasing Google Places results. When the description is gone from the search result I usually like to call it the “separation of the website and listing”, and when the description is shown, I call it the “merger of the website and listing”. This is practically the best signal for if the website is “supporting” the Google Places listing in the organic search results.

      By the way, regarding the decreasing organic local results, I found out that I see them only if I’m logged in, which might be caused by my location, i.e. it could be a direct consequence of Venice (I can’t see many results, because they are very irrelevant to me).

  3. Very interesting post Nyagoslav, it does seem pretty obvious that an update is en route. I tested this on a number of search results here in Ireland, both logged in and incognito, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting serps here yet (surprise surprise!). Interesting to see what the next update brings though!

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