On February 27th 2012, Google announced an algorithm change with the codename “Venice”, which increased the frequency in which Google Places (now Maps) integrations are shown in the organic search results.
What is the Google Venice Update?
Improvements to ranking for local search results. [launch codename “Venice”] This improvement improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.– Google Inside Search Blog– Google Inside Search Blog
This means that Google has now changed the rules for how they show place-entries inside the organic search results.
It seems that, for the German search market at least, the Venice Update was only introduced after May 2012. Before that, Google experimented with different display formats.
What makes this algorithm change so special?
The Venice Update noticeably increased the frequency in which local hybrid results are shown.
Example of a local hybrid search result page in 2013, for the search query: [pizza bonn]
Attributes of a local search result page:
- the places entries (box marked in red) are missing the headline “Places for”
- the first two local results have the same title-tag as the website
- local hybrid results often appear in groups of 7 (so called “7-Pack”)
- there are less than 10 organic results on the results page
Is there another kind of places-integration in the search results?
Yes, the classic Universal Search-Integration. Here is an example from 2013 for the search query [call a pizza München]
Attributes of a Universal Search-Integration:
- the places entries (box marked in red) have the headline “Places for”
- only 3 results will appear (so called “3-Pack”), which is also known as OneBox
- the titles are exactly the same as in the places entry
What is the difference between these two Places Integrations?
Google uses a different ranking algorithm for hybrid local search results. Most of the time, the first two (or even all) hybrid local results are not pure Universal Search-Integrations, but rather real organic results which have been masked as places entries. This happens when there is a link between a places entry and a well-ranking organic result (for the same website).
This […] improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal.– Google Inside Search Blog
Hybrid local results are mostly shown for generic search queries, like [cafe bonn]. Pure Universal Search-Integrations, in the so-called OneBox, are mostly shown for brand-search requests like [starbucks bonn].