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Google's Local Search Focus - Its Effect on PPC for Inbound Marketing

By Chad PollittNov 30, 2010

PPC Inbound MarketingBeing “the search guy” at Kuno, I’m constantly on Google looking for SERP (Search Engine Results Page) movement and anything new.  It’s very rare that I find something new that I didn’t see in a tweet or on Google’s blog first.  However, this morning I did find something new.  I saw a map of the Cleveland area in the upper right hand corner of the SERPs in the paid area and it moved when I scrolled down!

I noticed the map itself a few weeks ago, but it didn’t dawn on me the affects movement could have on PPC.  A map showing up on the first page of Google is nothing new either.  In fact, they have been doing this for years and many of Google’s latest updates have been centered on personalizing and localizing users’ search experiences. 

Since Google saw my IP address it knew that Cleveland area websites were probably relevant to my search.  Three items stood out to me that make this new map different from the way Google showed maps in the past:

  • Placement of the map.  Instead of the map being positioned in the organic rankings it is now in the paid or PPC area.
  • The map moves!  This was the “eureka moment” and new discovery.  As users scroll down to view search results the map moves down with the scroll bar.  As the map moves down it covers up and hides higher ranking PPC ads.
  • I didn’t do a “local” search.  My search didn’t contain any geo-reference.  Google just assumed that local results were relevant for me.


How is this going to affect PPC for inbound marketing campaigns?

  • Since people naturally scroll down a little below the fold and the fold is getting lower and lower as people use bigger monitors the second, third, fourth and fifth positioned ads will be more prominent.
  • Click-through rates will decline for those ads showing up at the top of the right-hand paid area.
  • Visually, the map itself seems to draw more attention to the paid area because it moves with the scroll bar.  This alone should increase the visibility of lower ranking ads because the user has to scroll down to witness this visual effect.

Let us know what you think of the new locally focused Google SERPs and what affect they’ve had on your PPC campaign.

Photo Credit:  josephwilebski



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