August 18, 2015

Google Unexpectedly Shakes Up Local Search…Again

Google’s made dramatic changes to local search…with no warning. Learn what they are and how they could affect your SMB.

Have you noticed how local searches now look like this:

Google Shakes Up Local Search Again

SEO pros now call this the “3-pack.” Remember the old searches, when you would search for local listings, and how they gave you 7 search results?

They had 7 search results, with the business names listed, with the Google Map off the side on the right.

The official word from Google is that they’re doing this to improve the search experience. They’re saying searchers get more relevant information when multiple results are possible for a certain location.

What’s Different with the New Search Results?

So you’ve got the basics now. Take a look at what’s different with the new search results in a little more detail:

  • Your business’s phone number isn’t immediately visible
  • Your specific address isn’t immediately visible (although it sometimes is, but most of the time you see a street name)
  • Your website address isn’t immediately visible either
  • Google+ links can no longer be seen
  • Store hours are sometimes visible, depending on when during the day you search
  • You don’t see Google’s local business listing on the right anymore, although you can see it if you click to the secondary local page
  • Paid ads for related keyword searches can now be seen at the top and right side (they weren’t in either of those places in the past)

So What’s Google Doing Here?

Most likely, they’re pushing SMBs like you toward Adwords. Remember, they’re a $450 billion company, second only to Apple, which is worth around $660 billion.

They want to continue growing their profits, just like every other corporation. Why should they be any different?

If you think about it, the explanation that they’re doing this to “improve the search experience” doesn’t make sense. Basic information, like a company’s specific address and phone number, aren’t immediately found. Users have to click through to the company’s website to get that.

But, you can now click paid ads immediately (Google’s main source of revenue, by the way), when you couldn’t before. Plus, Google’s reduced the 7-pack to only 3 organic listings. So, you have to compete more intensely to get a first-page ranking for an organic listing. Or, you can pay your way by using Adwords. And that’s going to drive up advertising costs because bigger companies will now put more of their budget towards pay-per-click.

This May Not Be a Good Long-Term Move by Google…

We’ll have to see how SMBs and searchers react to this dramatic change. More clicks for users to get basic information. Businesses with the most money, not necessarily the best service, at the top of the search results.

Google was built on giving searchers the results they want more often than any other search engine, right?

This seems to be a step away from that. We’ll see what ends up happening.

Or maybe this has something to do with it?

SEO
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