In the recent time, we have seen a number of changes in the way Google brings up search results, particularly when the search phrase includes a city or state. This has the potential to impact businesses in a very significant way, particularly for companies that target keywords with location – or they will be in for a rude shock to find that Google has already changed their listings in the search results, leaving them out in the cold.

Internet marketing firms that offer SEO services, social media marketing, digital media marketing, brand reputation and social reputation management and content marketing will also have to re-think their strategies around the way Google local search works.

Google local search is now Google Places for Business

A word about Google Places for Business first; you will see a map on the right sidebar with local listings in your search results. This means, if you used to feature in Google’s top ten results earlier, you could well be on page two of Google’s results now because local listings have replaced organic results in some cases. Obviously only relevant and targeted links will show up in the search results. Okay, there is more: Even as Google Places for Business is taking the Internet by storm, the competition is not far behind in the form of Bing Places for Business. As if that weren’t enough, there is Facebook integrating local search results and Twitter supporting place-related search. And the battle for grabbing the lion’s share of the revenue through local marketing begins.

So, how will this affect businesses around the world?

If your head has stopped spinning, consider this: According to statistics, 97% of North Americans shop online. About 73% of all Internet browsing is around local content. This makes it mandatory for North American businesses to ensure that they are highly visible in local search – or be left out of the party.

Also, Google is the favorite search engine for more than 85% of Canadian internet users. Thus, if a company is already listed in the online Yellow Pages, it probably already has a Place Page. Google’s information is based on sources such as these to create Place Pages for businesses in a particular area. If your business is local, now is the time to claim and develop that basic Place Page to raise local search engine rankings – or leave your money on the table.

From the SEO point of view, this is good news as Google Places for Business facilitates local SEO. Earlier this was a pretty tough job. Internet marketing gurus believe that local SEO could be the “future of internet marketing” and so, Google Places for Business will help businesses reach out to their local prospects and target mobile users in a big way. There’s no doubt that Google Places local search marketing is a marketing tool to reckon with.

Want to learn more about Local Search, then checkout our recent post on What is Local Search & Local Search Benefits?