How Google Places Ruins Search Results

A couple weeks ago Google Places took a more prominent role in many search results.  It is not uncommon now to see every search result above the fold coming out of Google places.

Below is a screenshot of a search for ‘Plastic Surgery Minneapolis’  Google displays 7 places results.  Three of them are not verified so we have little assurance the business information is accurate.  And even worse only two of the listings are in Minneapolis which is the city I searched for.

Google Search Results

And the fourth listing returned is in Fridley which is 10 miles from the heart of Minneapolis.  Clicking through to ‘More listings near Minneapolis’ brings us to a page where further down in the results are more businesses which are actually located in Minneapolis.  In fact the second page of search results has more businesses in Minneapolis than the main Google search results page.

Google loves to talk about user experience.  If a user searches for a business in a city, how does it improve experience to return listings which are not in the city search for?

I know they change their algorithm nearly daily and I have seen many changes taking place in the SERPs layout over the past weeks.  I hope they get this fixed quickly as this problem makes many results pages worthless.

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