The O Pack vs The 7 Pack

Oct 5, 2011

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Posted In : SEO, SEO

With the world wide web as a basic commodity in every home and business, searching for information has never been so easy and useful. Search engines are very useful in our daily lives Top search engines include Google, Yahoo! And Microsoft’s Bing and the results returned by these search engines are considered very reliable by a great number of online users. Businesses, whether established locally or nationally, have realized the importance of being part of the search engine distribution network.

However another search engine created for the specific use of looking up and contacting businesses locally in your neighborhoods has emerged. Google formally rolls out its new presentation of local results, called “Place Search.” It offers a dramatic change to the look and feel of SERPs on Google.com. The first and most obvious change is that the “7 Pack” is gone. And there appear to be some fairly major SEO implications, which should provide many hours of enjoyment for the SEO community as it tries to reverse engineer the algorithm.

On to the physical SERP changes. The best way to make this concrete is to show the “before” and “after” pages.
Place Search

Immediately below are two screenshots for the results to the query “San Francisco Dentist.” The first page below is an “old” SERP with my annotations. Below AdWords comes the “7 Pack,” which is followed by mostly local web results. This was the “old” arena for third party local SEO.
google places 7 pack in web search

Here’s the new page for the same local dentist query:
google places O pack in web search

Visually the page has changed quite a bit. The map has been moved to the right column and “floats” or scrolls down the page as users move down results. The 7-Pack is gone, as mentioned, and a richer presentation of local results with images fills the entire SERP.

Selected third party sites referencing the particular dentist are “clustered” with the listing. These clustered sites appear to be mostly the same sites that appear on Place Pages under “reviews from around the web.”
reviews in google places

As mentioned Place Pages now appear with each listing on SERPs. This will raise the profile of Place Pages considerably and increase usage accordingly.

As mentioned already, in most cases the seven pack has been replaced by what is being called the O-Pack (Organic Pack). This is where Google is putting more emphasis of having a strong presence everywhere online, not just in Google Places. In order to rank well in the O-Pack, you have to have an optimized website that correlates with your Place Page. Each needs to have some credibility and that credibility is gained by link building to your website and building citations to your Place Page. When Google feels each has reached a certain level of credibility, they will “Marry” the two together and rank them in the O-Pack.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Google Places vs. organic search results? Here are some of the reasons why being a part of these search tools is very important for your business to grow.

Businesses that need solid marketing strategies to promote and make their business grow will find it difficult to choose whether to optimize for both Google places vs. organic search results (if it makes sense use both). Organic search results are the results returned by the traditional search engines on the Internet and these results often omit advertisements so the relevance of the content and the keyword association is very important. Organic search results cater to billions of Internet users, especially those who are after the information, not just the location.

For online businesses with no local stores, being on top of the organic search results is the best option to strengthen the marketing strategy. Organic search results returns wide variety information and if a store is pinned on Google Maps, the Google search engine will also display a result on the store’s location. On the other hand, Google Places is a specialized search algorithm to locate business establishments in the neighborhood where users can rate and share their experiences with other users. Whether you are looking for a restaurant, a boutique or a gym, Google Places can tell you where to go and show the location on Google Maps.

Users can also access the rating and reviews on these establishments, so it will be easier to choose where to go based on the ratings and feedbacks. Placing your business on Google Places increases your reach to customers who are on the go and looking for the nearest business establishment with high quality services. Google Places can be very beneficial to businesses that are established in the neighborhoods, especially in building a good reputation and delivering great customer service.

Choosing Google Places vs. organic search results depends on the kind of business you are running. Google Places can increase visibility thus giving you higher profitability and customer base. Organic search results can help businesses get established online and without a real local store location to place on Google Places. They can better direct online traffic to their virtual stores.

If your business has a store and is directed towards the local market get on Google Places get it optimized then get your site ranked on the first page of the search engines. If you are a virtual online company and your market is towards the national market….. you would find it more beneficial to go organic.

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