Google has announced a major change to the way that the search results are displayed for local based search queries. Rather than having a map at the top of the results Google is just going to integrate the local results into the main organic results.
The impact of this change is that in the long term any site that doesn’t have a physical address in the location that people are searching for will probably no longer be able to rank for local based queries. There are still some sites that are ranking, especially for hotel related keywords, but I’m sure that as this launches Google will be showing a lot more local results and a lot fewer results from the traditional local directory style sites.
Quite how the algorithm works is unclear however we understand that the Google Local algorithm and the natural search algorithm have now been consolidated into one main algorithm. For the sites we work with one of the interesting things is that Google is sending people directly to the homepage rather than the more relevant internal pages we have registered with Google Local.
As you can see from the screenshot below (taken from here) there are still some organic results but the chance of anybody clicking on them is almost zero.
I really hope Google is going to give us some more details about this.