It’s always nice to speculate on what might or might not become important for SEO in the coming New Year, but one thing that will, beyond all shadow of doubt, be essential for SEO in 2011 is Google Places.
Google Places is what used to be called Google Local Business Center, and companies who were pro-active with their SEO were able to add a listing for their business to Google via their Google Account, including information such as the address, opening times, photos, a logo and even payment types accepted. These listings would then ‘sometimes’ show up when people searched for businesses in a particular geographical area, but this was not always the case and the listings were separated from the main search results.
Google however has recently changed Google Local Business Center into Google Places, and has placed more emphasis on the data it contains. Searches for products or services in local areas, such as ‘SEO in Ellesmere Port’ for example, now show almost exclusively those businesses that have a Google places listing – meaning if you’re not listed with Google Places, you’re not ranking for geographical searches.
This doesn’t happen for every type of business at the moment, but we believe it will – and it will mean more businesses will either have to list their websites with Google Places, or miss out on the traffic brought by geographical searches.
This isn’t much of a prediction to be honest, but if you’ve never heard of Google Places, or if you have heard of it but haven’t bothered to add your business, you’d best act now before your traffic plummets from local searches.