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 Google.co.uk (signed out).
Here’s the basic search on Google.co.uk (Italian restaurants), with the location set to London, UK:
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.
Clicking on the directory links offers some interesting results. Click on the Yell.com 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.
Yelp gets a bit better and actually delivers searches for Italian restaurants in London, so no complaints there.
Finally, clicking on the 118.com link brings in some fun. Although I have the location on my laptop set to London my actual location is Wimbledon. 118.com 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 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 118.com. Yelp gave exactly the same results as previously and this time both Yell and 118.com showed results for the correct specified location.
All in all I’d suggest Yelp probably comes out of this looking better than either Yell or 118.com for this specific search. I’ve looked at a number of different search terms and it looks to be Yelp, Yell and 118.com 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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