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There’s one thing Google have tried to make absolutely sure of over the last decade: SEO isn’t a template you can just fit your site to.

Their latest update slams that point home better than most.

It’s been a well known rule in SEO that your title tag (the bit you can see in the search engine results) has to be 70 characters or less. Otherwise your title would be cut off like thi…

Google have now scrapped that entirely.

Whether it’s to do with the introduction of their Knowledge Graph taking up space or just to shake things up, it looks like they now count pixel width instead of character count; W, A and K will take up more room in your title than I or t.

SEOmofo title experiment

It also appears that the number of words you use has an impact too, Google now only display titles if they have twelve words or less. (source: seomofo.com)

It sounds baffling, but if you don’t want your search engine results to look like you have lost complete control of your site, it is something you will have to address fairly quickly.

Mapping: Apple maps, Bing maps

There’s something about maps we all like. Whether you enjoy rambling through the Dorset countryside with nothing but a compass, a flask of coffee and your trusty map, or you rely on your phone to get from one side of the M1 to the other, they are an often overlooked life essential.

Bing Maps London Eye

Google realised this years ago which is why we have been relying on their online maps ever since. Over the years, it has been improved with functionality such as point-to-point directions and Street View, ensuring they are an invaluable part of our lives.

The other giants have realised the importance of maps, Apple and Bing, while already having maps in some form, have suddenly thundered their way to the forefront of innovation.

Bing had recently introduced over 165 terabytes of high resolution birds-eye-view satellite imagery and Venue Maps, which lets users zoom in on numerous shopping outlets to see what shops are available.

Apple’s revolutionary mobile satellite navigation features on-the-fly 3D viewing, voice-based directions and photo-realistic views of major metropolitan areas such as Sydney or New York.

And it’s just in time, as local search is set to become increasingly dominant over the next decade.

Decline of paper directories, increase in local search

Over the last four years, paper directories such as the Yellow Pages, have seen their income fall by over 50%.

In the same period, some online companies focusing on local businesses are boasting combined revenues of around $735 million. (source: abovethecrowd.com)

It is understandable that as this emerging market becomes dominant, companies will be rushing to lead the pack.

It’s why sites such as Uber and OpenTable – locally based websites and apps that let you book taxis or restaurant tables from wherever you happen to be – are enjoying huge popularity. So too are online, locally specific directories and review sites such as Just Eat and Trust a Trader. In fact, there are few industries now that don’t have their own source of locally targeted review sites, apps and map based locators.

This fierce competition is why Google have recently announced their launch of the Google Now voice service for Android phones.

Google Now

Described as a challenge to the Apple’s Siri, it is said to utilise Google’s vast knowledge of maps, search and tracking user behaviour, to provide rich knowledge of your surrounding area. It can suggest restaurants you might like for example, based on your search history, or warn you if the weather is looking poor for your cycle to work, by checking your calendar.

The exciting thing is that this is all still in its infancy. With mouth-watering technology like Google’s Project Glass in the pipeline, local search is going to move from being essential to being everything very soon.

Make sure to stay tuned to the blog for a more in-depth analysis of the impact of Project Glass on local search coming next week.

Apple maps and search goes local by