Google Now Showing 10 Pack w/o Modifiers

Mike Blumenthal wrote something very interesting today: 

Google is now showing the Local 10 Pack on broad single phrase searches with obvious local intent (nods to Florist SEO Watch who spotted this on Saturday and Cathy Rhullodafor pointing it out) without geo modifiers. He found it for a range of categories (such as florists, doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.) that Google has deemed local. 

I was able to see it on the search for “doctor” and a number of other searches:

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Notice there’s no modifier and yet the 10 pack appears, based on IP targeting presumably. What it indicates is that Google is acknowledging there are many more “local searches” than those that feature geomodifiers. There are a wide range of categories and queries that are “inherently local” (i.e., services where fulfillment must happen offline). I have also argued that the majority of product searches are ultimately local because they are fulfilled by a purchase in a local store. 

Though often the query will suggest it, Google isn’t necessarily sure where someone is in the research or purchase process (especially with products) in some of these situations. I suspect that’s why the 10 pack in the example above is somewhat tentatively pushed down the page. Compare “San Francisco Doctor” and the placement of the 10 pack in those results, where Google can be much more confident of the user’s intent:

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Regardless, this is a welcome development because it starts to reflect real user intent with a lot of these queries that may not contain a modifier. It should also drive lots more organic traffic into Maps and make that property more important than it already is.

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21 Responses to “Google Now Showing 10 Pack w/o Modifiers”

  1. Andrew Shotland Says:

    So far it seems like non-geo searches with high certainty of being local (e.g. “doctors”, “plumbers”, etc. show up in position #4 while those with less certainty (e.g. “pho”) show up lower.

  2. Stever Says:

    Nice timing there Greg on your statement that many of those broad search terms have local intent.

  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    I think that Google probably did it in response to my post :)

  4. What is Search Engine Optimization or Seo? | Intrepid SEO Blog Says:

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  5. Malcolm Lewis Says:

    It worked great for me. I got Doctors in Irvine, CA. I’m in Seattle, WA, but I would certainly travel for the right doctor ;)

    PS I know I can change the location.

  6. Evan Corwin Says:

    I find it interesting that the local intent doesn’t bleed over into the rest of the results… even when the location is changed next to the Google Local results. This opens the door for national vertical sites to own top placement on local searches.

    The quality of the results seems to have taken a step backwards with this change. A search for ‘beauty salons’ returned the 10-pack along with 5 out of 10 links to local.com powered sub-domains. The rub is that the listings represent seemingly random locations, not location agnostic searches.

    Is wearing a black hat back in fashion or can we expect some quick housecleaning from Google in the near future? Should we expect the other engines to follow suit by the end 2009?

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  8. earlpearl Says:

    Couple of notes: The phenomena has been in effect for several months. I was made aware of this by David Mihm late last year. Possibly Google expanded the variety of phrases more recently….possibly not…but it has been in existence since at least November last year.

    2. A couple of years ago, Greg, you published research referencing that these generic industry phrases w/out geo modifiers were showing up 49% of the time for what would be local searches….(I’ve referenced this a couple of times).

    I guess google’s actions clearly respond to that phenomena….which evidently hasn’t substantially abated in the last two years or so. (I guess that might run counter to people suggesting that searchers are becoming more sophisticated with longer search phrases.

    OTOH The phenomena could suggest though…that even as there is some slight change in “search” habits w/slightly longer phrases….there are plenty of people searching for local services with very short search terms that don’t reflect locality.

    3. I’ve been able to follow the phenomena of “a local service” showing in search for a generic industry phrase for some time. I’ve got one website that represents a local service, yet has had very high generic industry rankings in the engines for several years. It has ranked as high as #1 in Yahoo and MSN for longish periods of time and has ranked as high as #2 in Google for shorter periods. I’ve gotten a lot of traffic over the years for the industry term (w/out generic modifiers).

    In the last few months as this phenomena has hit…..and the site in question has dropped to about 4,5,6 in google (under the fold)….and with local ppc for the exact term of the phrase…..I’ve had a lot of traffic for the phrase. A lot more than when the site was 4-6 in google (ie under the fold) and I had #1 ranked ppc for the site. (The site tends to run #1 in Google Maps for the local city).

    Not only have I had the traffic boost for the phrase in Google but conversions for the phrase are up. Its VERY important and effective and leans toward relevancy….at least in my experience.

    My conclusion is simply that MAPs is very very important. It seems to weigh more than PPC. High organic rankings probably are most important but….maps is becoming a close 2nd in importance, IMHO and my experience.

    Of interest, as most have reported this map insert seems to be below the top 3 organic rankings. I suspect google will adjust and test different placement of the map….and test consumer/user reaction.

    4. This map placement and appearance seems to be very highly skewed toward a geographical centroid….somewhat more so than the testing that was done in Mike Blumenthals study of the impact of Maps. One can test how businesses show in this phenomena within an area by going to the map insert and clicking on the link wherein you can adjust the geographical identity of your search. Try it in a metropolitan region and input different zip codes for a topic….ie restaurants. As you adjust the zip codes one will see different 10pacs showing…each one seems to be very geographically oriented.

    I believe that it is an excellent effort at responding to consumer intent.

    On the other hand….how does it drive users to Maps. I still question how many people actually go to maps and more particularly the information in the local business center. I still doubt the volume of traffic in that regard. Even w/ clearly more visitors to the site in question through wider visibility of its presence in maps….I have yet to have a single customer use a printed coupon in the LBC that is a real money saver. LOL

    Google has improved in one area….but that coupon thing…..its still a waste of time, IMHO. ;)

  9. Greg Sterling Says:

    Dave:

    Re Google implementing last november . . . I’d never seen it until yesterday so they dramatically expanded the phrases for which they show the 10 pack. The research you mention was Nielsen/WebVisible (2007).

    More later . . .

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  11. seo-blog-traffic-tips Says:

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  12. Paul Levine Says:

    Hey Greg –

    I just put a note to Mr Shotland as well.

    This practice has been around for a long while. At Yahoo we were (and they still do) integrating local listings against maybe 1000? non-location-modified queries (doctor, lawyer, dentist) by inferring location from a user’s reg info or IP and appending it to the query in the background. Originally in 2004 or 2005 I think. Map+3 v Google’s map+10, but same basic idea. Query without explicit location triggers local results. G did it too.

    G may have increased their coverage/recall on this, but the feature itself has been in place for many years. Ahh, the memories…

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  14. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Paul. I was totally unaware of this obviously.

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  16. Noam Says:

    Hi Greg,

    I just start an advertising business with a friend here in the Bay Area. We advertise for service jobs such as locksmith, plumbing, constructions, etc.

    We were using Google local business center — free listing on Google map, in order to advertise in some specific areas. Recently, we realize that Google constantly delete many listings and I want to find out what do you know about it; and how can I win this game and keep my listings a live?

    It is the first time that I visit your blog, and I wanted to say that your information was very resourceful;

    Thank you in advance,
    Noam

  17. Greg Sterling Says:

    Noam

    I’m not a search marketer. You should read/speak to Matt McGee, Andrew Shotland, etc.

    Localseoguide.com, smallbusinesssem.com and other sites provide the kind of information you’re looking for. Also: Searchengineland.com.

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  19. security locks Says:

    superb web site, really usefull information the internet desperatly needs more site like this one.

  20. Yahoo! Boosts Location in Search Results « Screenwerk Says:

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  21. Jeff Says:

    Local search can be useful, but do most web users click on a local google listing

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