A little background: In November 2009, Google began testing a new look for the search engine results pages (serp). The largest change in this first test was adding the “Options” to the left side of the page from it’s relatively hidden location in a link at the top labeled “Show Options…”
Beyond this change they tightened up the spacing of the page so their is less scrolling and removed some junk a the bottom to improve the appearance of the bottom search box.
Now, Google has begun a second round of testing the new UI with another added feature that is directly targeted at local search. Google now clearly show your location on the serp and allows users to change it. This new functionality appears to the very right of the top search box:
This functionality is great from an SEO testing perspective. It allows you to see how local results are being displayed to local users. So, when a client across the country calls to bitch about something, you can spot check the organic listings as if you are actually at their location. Again, great on the organic side.
However, where this new feature completely fails is on the paid search side. See example below:
In this example I changed my normal location of Lexington, MA to Orlando, FL (highlighted with blue box). You can see that the organic listings, especially the map had been updated to reflect my new location (green boxes and arrow). But, what was not updated was the paid listings (red arrows and boxes). The driving factor behind the paid listings are the campaign settings in Adwords specified by the advertisers to target within a geographic location. I have clear identified that my location has changed or that I am looking for results in another location. So, wouldn’t the paid listings want to reflect this change as well?
With the new location functionality, paid advertisers will eventually be missing out on impressions of targeted consumers. So, big FAIL on Google’s part.
If you want to test the UI for yourself find instructions on forcing the test in your browser here: http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/021746.html (I recommend making the change in a secondary or tertiary browser)