Google local search has been integrated into the top of their results pages, for geographic specific searches, for some time now. However, Google recently made an adjustment expanding the number of results displayed in the OneBox / Universal Search results.
Previously when a local based search, such as “Seattle Hotels” was performed, Google would return the top 3 results, followed by the regular top 10 organic listings. With this update, now the top 10 Local results are returned to the searcher.
While this change can have a noticeable positive impact for those local businesses listed for high traffic phrases, it will likely have a negative impact on those relying on organic rankings who will now find themselves pushed beneath the fold should they not rank in the top 4, (based on a 1024 pixel resolution). Daniel Bower (Search Engine Land) notes that if your resolution is set to 768, or even 600 pixels, you will find all organic results pushed beneath the fold, which combined, accounts for more than 50% of web users)
By pushing the majority of organic results below the fold, this can potentially damage the traffic gained through those organic listings, and at the same time, assist the paid listings by making them slightly more prominent - and, potentially putting a few extra dollars in Google’s pocket. This change however, will definitely benefit the local businesses listed in the new, enlarged OneBox.
So how can you get your business listed? To start you will need to use your Google Account and log into the Local Business Center. Submission is free, but verification is sent by snail-mail, so it is certainly not instant. Along with adding your site and local information, if your business name also happens to contains a target phrase, this may help you out a little. Once approved however, the rest is up to Google. Google displays these top 10 businesses largely based around the geographic center of the location at hand. If your physical location is on the outskirts of Seattle, you have little to no chance of seeing your business listed in the above example.