It appears in addition to changing the placement of Google Places listings, Google also changed its ranking algorithm. Here's an excerpt that was reported to me by an associate: So Google changed the format of the Google Places listings – but what about the order (ranking)? Did Google change the ranking algorithm too? You bet your bottom dollar they did!!! In the last Q&A session, someone mentioned that Google was placing a higher value on the URL of the business owner. To see if that was the case for my clients, I asked the account reps for 5 of my clients to give me a before & after picture (you can see the results below). The numbers came in – but what does it mean? Here is what I am seeing: a. Before the change, it didn't really matter if the business had a website. Now the website SEO ranking seems to determine the Google Places ranking. b. Sites that ranked low in the old Google Places were catapulted to the first page via the new Google Places listings – IF the business' web site was ranking high in the organic results previous to the change. c. Sites that ranked high in the old Google Places have "dissapeared" if they did not have a website. They are still showing in Google Places – if you click on the map – but they are not showing in the first few pages of the Google Places results. Don't panic! If you were building citations/reviews on the Google Places listing and backlinks to the site then you are going to be fine. If not – if you'd only been concentrating on the Google Places listing then you need to adjust your strategy to include a web site!
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