Google's Place Search throws roadblock at national advertisers, say industry experts

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Place Search, introduced by Google this week to organize results around geographic locations, may help consumers find new businesses nearby, but it may hurt the search marketing efforts of national marketers, said industry experts.

“Some of their rankings may be adversely affected,” said Jon Schepke, president of interactive agency SIM Partners. “If you are not on page one on Google, whether through organic or paid search, you're not going to get that consumer's attention.”

Google said it created the platform to make the search process easier, and to help consumers more quickly find comprehensive information about a location.

“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,” said Jackie Bavaro, product manager at Google, in a company blog post. “In our testing, Place Search saved people an average of two seconds on searches for local information.”

However, the platform may especially hurt marketers in the travel and hospitality industries, said marketing experts.

“They are very sophisticated paid search marketers, and they have been employing every best practice that you could possibly do to generate revenue,” said Suzy Sandberg, president of PM Digital, an internet marketing agency. “Now, these local mom-and-pop shops — people not doing paid search — they are bumping off some of the major chains. The local hotels are getting much higher placement.”

Google said it will soon make Place Search available in more than 40 languages.

Schepke indicated that customer reviews will also help brands get better placement, and potentially result in other consumers taking more action.

“Eighty-four percent of Americans say online customer evaluations have an influence on their decision to purchase a product or service,” he said. “Now it will help your rankings with click-through and conversion rates.”  

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