Google Loves The Places 1-Box Results


In the last 2 months after Google stopped showing photos next to the Google Places listing in the organic search results, there was a lot of talk around the changes Google are doing on the so-called branded one-box. The box is the equivalent of the 1-pack result that was showing up before for keywords with very low competition and very few relevant results. Usually these results were triggered by searches in small towns and rural areas (in the US). However, Google decided that some changes have to be done and totally redesigned this one-box to turn it into a shiny complete call-to-action-button-like listing appearing right on the first page on, as it seems, more searches then ever.

Now with good title tag, meta description and/or a little luck the Google Places 1-box would appear even for some very competitive searches, which would previously either not return any Google Places results, or a 3/7-pack. In the case of “affordable lawn maintenance Los Angeles” or “beautiful flowers New York” this is not such a threat for the organic website results, because the listings are not optimized and have only the basic attributes (business name, address, phone number). Still the one-box result occupies area equal to two normal website results. These examples are completely based on luck, because it just so happened that the business names were similar (or the same) as the search query.

At the same time there are other search queries, which return very well optimized, full of pictures, reviews and information listings. “New York cheap movers” is a relatively competitive keyword, which I am sure, many moving companies in NYC and the area would be happy to rank for.

Local Search Results New York

Click to enlarge

The Place page completely devastates the competition of the organic website results and, I am sure, would get almost the whole traffic for this keyword. You can see two more similar results for “professional mover Houston” (about 184 million results) and “affordable criminal attorney Washington DC“. These all seem to be based on good meta description and titles.

The conclusion – it seems that local SEO can currently help more than ever the businesses targeting local clients.

  1. Darren Shaw
    Darren Shaw08-22-2011

    Great post highlighting the new one-box style Nyagoslav. I had not seen this before.

    Are you seeing a new marker style on the query? It’s a circle for me. See This is new to me too!

  2. Darren Shaw
    Darren Shaw08-22-2011

    Turns out that circle marker is for unconfirmed locations. If you look at the place page they haven’t provided the exact address. Hat tip to Stever at @axemedia:!/axemedia/statuses/105724520027013120

  3. Nyagoslav Zhekov
    Nyagoslav Zhekov08-23-2011

    Hey Darren,

    There are a few ways situations, in which Google shows the circle marker instead of the balloon:

    1) As Stever said: unclaimed listing with no address specified
    2) When a claimed listing’s address is being hidden consciously by the business owner (for example because they work from home)
    3) When Google does not recognize particular address – this happens already rarely in the US and Canada, but really frequently in other countries, where Maps are still in Beta version
    4) When the address was mistaken by the person who was creating the listing

    In cases 1) and 2) Google will show the marker at the center of the suburb/town/city area that was specified. In cases 3) and 4) Google will show the marker at a nearby location, marked with a circle (depending on the degree of disagreement between the Google data and the input data, Google might also put the circle at the center of the town).
    Thanks for the comments and the RT! :)

  4. Jo Shaer
    Jo Shaer08-29-2011

    Hi Nyagoslav

    If we can get our marker automatically put in the centre of the town/suburb we are trying to rank for, would we not be better off not giving our actual address…? I had a red circle for a while and did very well from it.

    I can’t wait for Google Maps to come to the UK :)

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov08-29-2011

      Hey Jo,

      It depends on the type of business. If it is a restaurant, doctor’s practice, or a retail store – that tactic would not be possible :)

      Hey, I thought Google Maps is already in the UK, isn’t it? I’ve got a few clients on the map too!

  5. Jo Shaer
    Jo Shaer08-29-2011

    Nyagoslav, LOL, I guess it’s a bit more important if you need people to know exactly where you are :P

    Yes, we have Google Maps but we can’t actually put any data on there yet like they can in the US. So we have to rely on Google to do it for us. At first, it was really frustrating because there was no logic to who was chosen and who wasn’t but more and more companies are now showing, although some of them aren’t in the right place or have the wrong label :(

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