On August 7, a significant shakeup occurred when Google decided to reduce the familiar local pack from seven to just three listings. On that day, many search marketers were left with the question of what to do in order to stay competitive when it comes to local search. We’ve gone over some of the most notable changes which have occurred in local search since August 7.
Recent Changes to Google’s Local Search
In addition to business names, Google’s local seven pack also displayed addresses and telephone numbers. However, phone numbers have now been removed, but addresses remain displayed. In place of phone numbers, Google have added a benefit to users in the form of store opening hours, when applicable. This is useful as it helps people to know if a store they plan to visit will be closing soon. If a person clicks on the business name, additional information regarding the business will then be displayed. An expanded view will be opened which contains the full name, address, and company phone number. The Google+ link from the old pack has gone, instead showing the business website – a benefit to business as it helps to drive traffic to their site. There is no change regarding reviews and review stars, and Google Maps is still very much a focal point when it comes to local search.
What Matters Right Now
In short, the changes mean that websites are more visible, however phone numbers are not as easily visible as they once were. Google Maps and ratings are still hugely important, and Google+ is less of a main focus. Admittedly, it is concerning that the number has dropped from seven to three in the Google local search pack. This becomes even more of a concern when you consider that your listing is always going to be displayed along those of competitors, even when opened in the expanded view. In order to stay competitive in local search, you will undoubtedly need to make some adjustments to your strategy.
Adjusting Your Local Search Marketing Objective
Since the local three pack is entirely dependent on the user’s location, trying to compete for a spot in it is not the best way forward. Results showing in the local pack are ranked in accordance with the searcher’s proximity, however, there is also a clear option displayed allowing the user to open an expanded view of more businesses. This is where it becomes more competitive – here is where people aren’t just going with the first option presented to them, but searching for more information in order to make a decision. One of the most fundamental goals of search marketing is to ensure that people have enough information about your business in order to decide that it is the one they need. To get ahead in local search, you should make feeding Google the information that you want it to provide to potential customers about your business a main priority. Good SEO practice has never been more important.
How have these changes affected you?
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