In researching my last post called Local Search Fail – Winnipeg Dentists, I stumbled on some interesting things. The first was how tightly packed the Google Maps result at the right side of the screen is compared to a lot of other searches, like “winnipeg doctors”, or “winnipeg plumbers”. What I find in this maps result is pretty much a complete lack of information due to the clutter. While it’s great news that Google hasn’t played favourites like they tend to in other searches, but it really does leave the user without a reasonable chance of determining where a dentist in either the Google Places results or Paid AdWords results.
To illustrate why I find this result so interesting, here are the doctors and plumbers search results maps.
With such a thick cluster in the maps, you can bet that it’s difficult to stand out in this particular search. So, let’s break down the results.
In this snapshot of what I saw in the results on that particular day, I’ve highlighted a few of the key factors in the results. Local AdWords ad extensions, which appear as blue pins on the map, the purely organic results which appear below the top 3 ads, and below that the actual organic maps listings, which appear as red pins on the map.
So where’s the opportunity?
As best I can tell, the dentists listed in the sponsored listings at the top and at right are paying in the range of $3-$8 per click for their positions on this page. The real winners are the one’s who have established their online local presence well enough to appear in the organic maps results highlighted with the blue square, appearing on the first page, and not paying per click. They’re also benefiting from 80% of the click through traffic vs. 20% from the sponsored listings.
I also found that, in all of these searches, except for “winnipeg florists”, the first couple of organic results (highlighted in green) were dominated by directories. I tend to wonder why Google even allows them to appear in those positions, as you’re typically being directed from a search engine to another search engine, where you have to start all over again.
While it’s apparent that there has been some search engine optimization done on a few of these sites, there’s still plenty of opportunity to knock out some of the directory and local aggregators off of the first page with a well planned SEO strategy, and for some, eliminate the need to pay for clicks in the future.