Google is now showing the Local 10-pack listings for broader search terms with no geo-tag. This was first discovered by Florist SEO Watch on March 28. This shift will dramatically affect local data and its impact on search.
This new 10-pack appears to be instituted for some phrases, but not others. For example, do a search for any of the following terms and you should see the 10-pack:
It doesn’t seem to be populating the 10-pack for phrases such as new cars, web design or apartment rental though. Nobody except Google can be sure which phrases are the ones that are causing the 10-pack to populate, but it is clear that it is happening more often than not.
Google appears to be using a user’s IP address for geo-targeting. A user doesn’t even have to be logged in for the geo-parameters to work. My default location is Columbus, but I’m sure if I moved to a computer somewhere else it would change. You do have the option to change your geo-parameter though.
This recent algorithm shift just goes to show that Google is currently favoring the idea that many searchers looking for a product or service are doing so with a local intent. That is, they are looking to find that product or service in their neck of the woods. This should cause a bit of a shift for those marketeers and SEO’s who weren’t focusing on local before, and I’m sure many will scramble. In addition, it may cause some well optimized websites to get bumped down the page a bit in favor of the 10-pack.
This doesn’t mean SEOs or marketeers should change the way they do business, but it does mean that more people will be vying for those Top 10 listings in Google Maps. So, I say let the fun begin!