Google recently started rolling out their new and improved Google Places search results.  Essentially, the changes make Google Places listings for local businesses more visible by occupying more real estate (See below for the side by side comparison.)  So, the question is: how do these new Google Places listings change the SEO for local businesses?

Let’s say you are a San Francisco Pizza Delivery shop.  Now, instead of simply having a seperate ‘local results’ section for all the pizza delivery locations in San Francisco, the results are seamlessly integrated into the standard organic results.  For example, the organic results between the national chain listing and the local listing are nearly identical.

One of the primary changes is that the new listings allow for more information to be displayed on the results page prior to clicking through.  This makes being meticulous on your Google Places page all the more important – filling out a profile picture, details, hours, service area and more will differentiate your local business and drive more customers.

In addition the map now follows you as you scroll down the page of organic listings.  This makes the map more prominent, and could influence the use of Google’s pay-for placement tags that highlight specific businesses.  However, the map’s placing on the right side of the page also pushes down Adwords placements that are below the top 3 positions.  If you scroll down the page, the map follows you and pretty much covers up the right side ad column.  This could potentially further diminish the click-through-rates of ads in the 4-10 positions (thus also lowering the corresponding quality scores).  Position bidding for the top 3 positions could become a more valuable tool with this change.  What does Google have up it’s sleeve with the large change of search layout?