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Massive Change in Google’s Local Search Result: Find Out What’s Changed and How to Stay on Top!

 

Calling all local businesses! Listen up – there’s been some big changes to Google’s local search listings recently. Thankfully, our expert geeks have been paying a close eye on them so you don’t have to! So, what’s it all about? Well, a major change in the way Google sorts its local search listings happened earlier this month. Basically, local businesses will now be listed on the search engine results page slightly differently. The new update has replaced the “local 7-pack” where seven local businesses were featured on Google’s search results. This has now been chopped down to three local businesses, hence the new name “local 3-pack” view.

If this all sounds rather complicated, it’s really not. Just know this: while the SEO industry has been rocked with the news on how these changes will affect local business listings and traffic, making a few small changes to your website could put you in a better position than ever before when it comes to attracting new customers. Interested in generating new leads? Encouraging clients and customers to visit your web pages? Improving your bottom line? This is the article for you. Here we’re going to tell you how Google’s new changes will affect you, and what you can do to become a local SEO superstar. Our team of geeks are here to help you, so don’t despair!

 

WHAT’S CHANGED?

The new changes have been rolled out in the UK and internationally simultaneously and have changed the way businesses are listed on Google results. Now only three businesses are shown (before the update, local listings were available in ‘packs’ of 3, 5, or 7). Basically, there’s room for fewer local businesses to advertise their services on the main results page than before. This makes the competition even more fierce.

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In addition, Google has removed the exact addresses and phone numbers from their listings, and will now only show the name of the street where your business is located. Search users are no longer provided with your contact information and will need to look for it themselves. Another change is that Google has disabled ‘one-click’ access to find out this contact information, and all links to Google My Business pages have been removed. When you click on a business listing on the search engine results page, it now opens a new view with a map, a version of the old local card, and a list of 20 other competitors.

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WHAT WILL THIS MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

You might think these new changes will have huge ramifications for your business. But there’s no reason to panic just yet. The impact of Google’s latest has yet to be seen, and while it might seem that Google has made it harder for local businesses to advertise their services, there could be more opportunities for more companies. Which is a win-win for everyone involved. Here are some of the changes:

  1. The top 3 local results for a search query will now rotate depending on the search user’s physical location. For example, different results will display depending on the searcher’s IP address. This means that two search users in the same location might be presented with different results – certainly something to think about if you are trying to advertise your services to a large demographic in your area.Google-s-local-search-11
  2. Because search users will have to navigate to the map view, they will need to locate your contact information themselves. Many of the older options such as the fly out business card and Google My Business links have now been disabled. This means that if you weren’t listed on the search results page before the change, you might have a better chances of being recognised.
  3. It’s likely that search users will now stick to organic search results when finding out about local services and products. Although this was the case before the change, Google has revised their pages to reflect the demand of their search users. This means that if you didn’t perform well in local listings before the new change, you might experience an increase in organic traffic to your business pages or website. This is good news for many businesses who didn’t have much luck before.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO NOW

Our team of geeks have analysed the new Google changes to see how they will affect your search rankings. Here are some of the best ways to take advantage of the new update in order to increase leads, maximise profit, and improve your bottom line.

The first thing is not to panic if your website is not listed in the local pack. As we said before, the new pack is based on providing information to users based on their physical location, so different people in the same area could be presented with different search results. However, these changes will make it harder to track your websites and find out where the appear on the SERP. For example, you might find that your business appears on the SERP when you type in a particular search query, but this might not be the same for all of your customers.

Even if you are listed in the top 20 websites, this doesn’t mean you can rest of your laurels. In fact, you will need to come with an eye-catching snippet to attract the attention of prospective leaders. Remember – when a consumer is looking for the contact details of one of your competitors, they might come across your snippet and decide to visit your page instead. Keeping your snippet informative and interesting can be a great way to drum up business and attract customers away from your biggest competitors. Make sure you take some time and create a compelling description.

Although a direct link to your Google My Business page is no longer available, most of the information from your listing will be used to create your local business card. This includes your phone number, address, street view, images, and other useful information. So, how can you use this to your advantage? By reorganising and come up with a great Google My Business listing.

 

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Before we start let’s see what the big G has to say about “Ranking of local results on Google

Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Create a long description that is formatted correctly and includes links back to your website. Ask yourself the following questions before you fill out your description: what do you want to say to the world? Why is your business different from your competitors? What’s your passion? What sets you apart from other companies in your niche? Answering these questions will help you create a description that will really sell your business and catch the eye of potential customers.
  • Place your listing in the correct category. You’ll be surprised as to how many businesses fail to do this. Not only will this make your listings look more professional, but more customers will be able to find you online.
  • A good image can attract people to your business listing. Make sure you have a high resolution cover photo and profile image that is relevant to your business and really resonates with your customers. In fact, you should upload as many photos as you can to your listing. You may want to upload your company logo or a picture that pertains to your industry.
  • Make sure all your contact information is correct. Check and then double-check – any mistakes could make it harder for your customers to contact you. This should include your business name, phone number, email address, website, street view and everything else.
  • Reviews are still important, even though they’ve changed somewhat. However, your business card will still include the number of bad reviews you have, as well as your overall rating. As Google has added a new feature where search users can only search for businesses that have a certain rating, it’s important that you continue to get good customer feedback.Google-s-local-search-13
  • Bad reviews don’t have to be the end of the world – it’s all about how you respond to them. When faced with a complaint about a product or the customer experience a consumer received, respond accordingly. Although the bad review will still be available for others to see, apologising and asking the customer to contact you to discuss the problem further could encourage more click-throughs to your website.
  • Local listing cards now have the opening and closing hours (a feature that is also available on Facebook). Make sure your hours are correct and update any old listings

 

SUPER SEO TECHNIQUES

SEO is still really important and can affect your local listings in the same way as before, even though the new update isn’t an algorithm change. Most of the old SEO techniques still apply, so you should take some time to find out whether your on-page SEO is still working for you. Here are some of the things you should be looking out for.

  • If you haven’t got a Google My Business listing, now’s the time to get one. Claim your page and follow the instructions. There are other business directories too – which will help you expose your brand to a potential audience of million. Yelp is another great one and won’t take too long to set up.
  • Your NAP – which stands for name, address and phone number – should be consistent across all of your business listings and websites. Inconsistent or outdated information can be bad for your search rankings, so take some time and make sure this is all correct. There are a number of programs that can help you out when it comes to this.
  • Content is king when it comes to local SEO, so make sure your blogs and websites are updated on a regular basis with fresh content that your visitors will want to read about. Whether it’s product tutorials or how-to guides, creating unique content with some long-tail keywords can work wonders when it comes to improving your local search results. There should be an emphasis on quality over quantity; the search engines could penalise you if you churn out irrelevant content that has nothing to do with your niche.
  • Business reviews have an impact on your rankings, so acquire great customer feedback. We’re not just talking about Google here, but also Yelp and other local directories. Encourage your social media followers to leave you a review online or send out an email to your subscribers.
  • Start back-linking: Building links is really important. In fact, local SEO relies on links more than regular SEO. You’ll want to get links from highly authoritative sources and industry leaders, as well as popular websites in your niche. The key here is quality over quantity – especially as spammy back links can jeopardise your position on the SERP.
  • Have you realised the power of social media yet? Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, creating social pages for your business can be a great way to attract new customers and increase the visibility of your brand online. Not only will your customers love to engage with your brand, but the search engines will love it too. Their search bots will crawl your social pages and this will have a positive effect on your search rankings. Remember to keep your social pages up-to-date and engage with your customers by introducing new products and services, or offering coupon codes and discounts.

CONCLUSION

Yes, it can be frustrating when you’ve optimised your on-page SEO, sorted out your business listings and updated your social media profiles to find yourself faced with another challenge – a new Google SEO update! However, it doesn’t have to be an obstacle. Following these few simple tips will help you revolutionize your SEO and attract more customers to your pages. Try and act as quickly as you can, especially as it can take a little while for your changes to be reflected on the SERP. SEO might seem like a constant battle at times, but the new changes from Google could affect your business in a positive way. With the SERP now customized based on a search user’s physical location, you could be attracting brand new customers who haven’t previously heard about your business. And whilst it’s still too early to ascertain whether these changes will transform local SEO for the better, optimizing your content now could put you in a better position than you’ve been. Give it a try!

If you would like the PurpleFruit team to review your Google local listing, please get in touch for a free NAP Consistency review

Ben Hawkshaw-Burn
Ben Hawkshaw-Burn
Co founder of digital marketing agency PurpleFruit and absolutely obsessed with search, social and web marketing. I love technology almost as much as I hate it …... I am totally mesmerized by how technology continues to change consumer behavior …... and even more passionate about staying ahead of that curve. I really thrive on working with passionate Technology-based companies who are determined to stay cutting edge.