The Mayday update on Google's UI and SERPs have been a hot topic on SEO and webmaster forums. Google update rocked a few ships and people started seeing lesser search referrals, lower rankings and lesser organic traffic.
I initiated a small experiment after reading the discussions and I found that some of the fears were indeed true. People are seeing more real time and contextual results on the SERPs and that has made the organic rankings look bad.
The primary targets of such a hit are the people who claim they are local, but are not really local. Example: If you are a hotel booking agent and you have traffic from people who are searching for a particular hotel in a particular place. Before the update, the SEOs made it possible that the website appeared somewhere within the top 10 of the organic listings and that made people click on the URL and eventually buy from the website.
With the new design, Google Maps, real time updates are being amalgamated with the SERPs. As a result, the organic listing has been pushed below the fold. If people are seeing the location and the URL of the hotel in the 1st fold itself, they are clicking more on the hotel entry on the Google Map rather than the URL below it.
What does it mean for SEOs?
SEOs already have social media, search, on page, off page activities to do. This change has compelled SEOs to ensure they are on Google places as well. Here they have little to pitch, lesser to do but deal with much more competition. So, SEOs work has become more challenging and interesting.Prior to the update, Google places was deemed to be "optional". Now, for businesses like the one specified in the example, its imperative that they do Google places.
The Upside of all this?
Well, more work means more opportunity. SEO work has become tougher, that means SEOs have the opportunity to act pricey :-)
A pie chart on SEO Round table was really interesting. Pasting it here. The post was good and was very interesting.