Google has launched a new maps search results interface, apparently visible globally to all Google Maps users.
Reviews are just starting to come in as users begin trying it out and noticing finer points of the new layout.
Here are highlights of the most frequent comments from Local Search Forum, pros and cons.
Search Results List
- The search results immediately pull up a full listing of businesses instead of having you click a drop-down menu. Scrolling down the list makes for smoother navigation. A key change is the option to filter by the number of stars, at the top of the search page.
Individual Business Card
- Each individual business map listing card has a new, cleaner look, too. The photo image is larger, with just essentials in the headings, including star reviews ranking and a link to map directions. Location and contact specifics are preceded by a one-sentence description. Additional photos appear at bottom, followed by a detailed breakout of star reviews and links to reviews from levels 1 – 5.
- You can now collapse the search box, opening up more viewing area on your screen for the map.
- Anything less than a 4-star rating could keep your business out of page 1 listings, or reduce your conversion rate even if you make it to page 1. This creates one more hurdle for many small businesses to overcome, and should generate some new thinking for your social media marketing strategies.
- Businesses will need to pay extra attention to their reviews, including B2B reviews.
- Images seem to be displaying poorly, with part of the image area cut off awkwardly. Hopefully, this problem will be worked out going forward.
Taking advantage of the new maps search results–
Here are some specific action points to consider in light of Google’s new format:
- B2B star ratings on AdWords ads improve click-through rates on both organic search and paid search ads by as much as 17%.
- Achieve B2B ratings by asking your most loyal customers to provide an online review. Take some time to learn and follow recommended best practices to gain valuable positive reviews from the right type of customer, without creating negative feedback.
- Include positive online reviews and testimonials from your customers on your own testimonials page to counter any negative reviews and to generate additional rankings.
- Frame images with “expendable space” around margins, in case key elements are at risk of being cut off.
It’s a good time to rethink your online marketing strategies in order to nudge search rankings up. Study existing reviews closely to learn what may be holding your business back, and target specific weaknesses that are keeping you out of 4-star or even 5-star rankings.
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