Some more explanations from the front line of new SERP results we've seen recently.
Do a search on Google for "engagement rings" and you'll see results including many national brands, products from Google's Merchant Center, and even listings of related searches for engagement rings.
What you don't see in those results are local stores because Google "local" search wasn't triggered. Although you might notice ads from local stores if they target your town.
Google's Local SERP is triggered as soon as you include a town or city name in the search query; let's say "engagement rings Houston." This search request will return some websites and some Google Places results.
What we'd like you to look at are those Places results. They now have a lot more information on the SERP, but unfortunately the information is becoming more difficult to control. Let's break it down and review all the parts of the Places results on the SERP.
For each listing, you are shown a Title and Description, as usual, but also you will see the website address, an image, address, a quote from a review, the number of known reviews, what review sites are reporting, and the average star rating the store has.
Previously, these Places results would only show you information from the Google Places page, but now all those details listed above could be found anywhere on the internet, not simply from your website, which means it's very difficult to control.
The Title may show as the store name, or it could be the title of your home page. If you want to appear in the Places SERP for the phrase "engagement rings" you will have to include "Engagement Rings" in the title of your home page, or as the name of your store in your Places account. In other words, you should log into your Places account and change you store name to "Engagement Rings in Houston from Smith's Jewelers."
The Description shown in the Places SERP will be pulled from anywhere that closely matches the search phrase. That is, if the phrase "engagement rings in Houston" is part of your Meta Description, then that will show. But if "engagement rings in Houston" is within the body copy, the body copy will show instead. We've also seen results that had Descriptions pulled in from quotes on Google Places.
Google simply wants to make sure they clearly show why these stores have the best results. In order to do that, the user is given the most relevant snips of information.
The bottom line of today's Nugget is this:
It seems like local search results are getting more difficult to specifically control. In order to have prominent placement in local results, you will need to use your town name in the same sentence of any phrase you would like to rank.
If "engagement rings" and "jewelry stores" are your goals, then you need to have content somewhere in your Places account or on your website that says something, like this: "Smith Jewelers is one of the best Houston jewelry stores for all your jewelry, and service needs. If you are looking for wedding jewelry or engagement rings in Houston, stop in and take a look."
You see how those two sentences use the town name and the coveted keyword phrases. That's the strategy you should employ, too.