SYDNEY, 31 OCTOBER 2010 Small businesses around the globe are scrambling to maintain their online profiles after search giant Google changed its search algorithms.
Ewan Watt, the managing director of Melbourne search engine optimisation company ROI, said the revamp constituted the biggest change to Google's algorithms in at least five years.
Watt warned that companies must revisit their Google strategies as most rankings would suddenly have changed. ''Small guys have been snuffed out,'' he said.
Melbourne search engine consultant Ash Nallawalla said the new search produces a local map on the screen, and a list of several entries with red flags, referring to the map.
''Many local businesses will find Google doesn't position their entries as high as previously, meaning potential customers will have to scroll further down the pages of results to find them,'' Nallawalla said.
Google product manager Jackie Bavaro announced Place Search on Wednesday, describing it as a new kind of local search result that organises information around places, clustering search results around locations that enable users to more easily make comparisons.
''Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you're looking for local information. In addition, you'll find a new link for 'Places' in the left-hand panel of the search results page so you can switch to these results whenever you want.''
Nallawalla said that there would be Australian winners. ''More Yellow Pages advertisers will get exposure for a single local search - good news for Sensis, the official Australian supplier of data to Google.''
Nallawalla said the changes reinforced the need for businesses to optimise their online presence, making sure they have a page on their website containing their physical address, phone numbers and other items such as reviews.
A business that previously came up fourth on a list in response to a Google search, might now have 10 map-based entries above it, relegating it to 14th position on the list, pushing it below what search engine experts call ''the fold'', the bottom of the computer screen.
Businesses above the fold are far more likely to gain the attention, and custom, of people conducting a Google search.
Website Mashable.com says Google has been adding an increasing number of location-based search features.
In another development at the Mountain View, California, headquarters of Google, the departure of AdMob Inc. chief Omar Hamoui was announced five months after Google acquired the mobile-advertising business he founded.
Hamoui made the decision for personal reasons, Google said on Friday. Google, which acquired AdMob in May for $US750 million ($A767 million), has used the company to bolster its mobile advertising effort. ''He built a fantastic business in a short period of time, and we wish him all the best,'' the company said.
Google is turning to mobile services to help curb its reliance on personal-computer web queries.
The company faces rising competition for online advertising dollars from Facebook and Microsoft.
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