Google starting to highlight top directory sites in local search

Google starting to highlight top directory sites in local search, including Yelp and Yell

Looks like Google may well be starting to add feature links specifically to some top directory sites here in the UK. This is most likely due to their efforts in settling the anti-trust case with the EU. These recent changes were first spotted over on Webmaster World and reported by Barry Schwartz here. The new layout looks remarkably similar to what was described by local SEO expert Nyagoslav Zhekov over on his blog back in April.

This could all be just a test by Google and as it stands I can only see the new layout on Firefox, not Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. I managed to grab a few screenshots so here they are, along with some descriptions on where the links take you. All searches were done using Firebox as the browser on (signed out).

Here’s the basic search on (Italian restaurants), with the location set to London, UK:

italian restaurants - Google Search

Search for Keyword only (no location)

Before we hit up the directories, notice that there’s also a nice fresh link to Google Places Results. While some of us may have been hoping that this would take us to what it describes, i.e. Google Places results, it actually fires you across to Google Maps.

italian restaurants near London - Google Maps 2013-09-09 18-28-48

Clicking on the directory links offers some interesting results. Click on the link and off you go to their site to be shown a search highlighting all Italian restaurants in the United Kingdom, no location specified … not what I was searching for.

Italian Restaurants - Yell

Yelp gets a bit better and actually delivers searches for Italian restaurants in London, so no complaints there.

Italian restaurants - yelp

Finally, clicking on the link brings in some fun. Although I have the location on my laptop set to London my actual location is Wimbledon. seems to somehow have figured that out and says that it’s delivering search results for Italian restaurants in Wimbledon, while actually showing me results for places nowhere near here. - Search results for italian restaurants

Search for Keyword + Location

Got the same basic search results on Google (Italian restaurants in London) with the same three competitive links showing up – Yell, Yelp and Yelp gave exactly the same results as previously and this time both Yell and showed results for the correct specified location.

Italian Restaurants in London - Yell - Search results for italian restaurants in london

All in all I’d suggest Yelp probably comes out of this looking better than either Yell or for this specific search. I’ve looked at a number of different search terms and it looks to be Yelp, Yell and across the board at the moment. Ultimately it highlights the need for businesses to ensure they’ve claimed and optimised their listings on these sites but I think it also highlights just how weak Google’s competition is in local search.

I posted the first screenshot I spotted over on Google+, here’s the thread if you want to get involved:

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Nick Rink

Managing Director at Smart Local
Nick runs Smart Local from its base in Wimbledon and writes about local search, social media, the mobile web and other online marketing issues affecting small businesses.

4 responses to “Google starting to highlight top directory sites in local search, including Yelp and Yell

  1. Very interesting. I am yet to be able to replicate this new display (even after changing my location) so it will be interesting to see if this is just an experiment or whether it starts to get rolled out. Clearly there has to be a bit of tidying up on Yell and 118 before this is widespread (you would have thought).

    Top post.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Andy. I can only see the featured links but only on Firefox, not Chrome. Will be interesting to see if they do in fact roll it out more broadly.

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