Google Makes a Change in Local Search

7-Pack turns to a 3-Pack

When performing a local search, Google used to display seven local businesses, now only three are displayed.  Consumers have the ability to select more local listings than the original seven by clicking on the icon at the bottom left of the screen.

By reducing the 7-Pack down to a 3-Pack, this prevents agencies that were showing up in the 4 to 7 range from appearing on the initial search. Most individuals will not click on the menu button to show additional results.  It is now more important than ever to pay attention to your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), reviews, and keywords in order to get your agency to appear in those top three local listings.

With the reduction in the number of businesses displayed, agencies might be pushed to using AdWords to promote their site.  AdWords allows your agency to select a few keywords consumers might use for searching your business and place your ad on the displayed page giving the consumer the opportunity to click on your ad and find out more about your agency.

Another interesting omission is that Google Plus appears to have been taken off of any search results.  Before, if you were on Google Plus, you would have a link to your Google Plus account which was listed underneath your agency name.  With this new update, your Google Plus page is not part of the search results.   (However, it does appear that information from your Google Plus account is being used in the search results that are displayed.) You will notice the hours of operation, indication of your business being open or closed, reviews, location, address and website address.  Remember, you should make sure that your Google+ page is verified by Google.  If the page is not verified, it could be closed out by Google.

Your agency website also must now be mobile-ready.  Google announced a few months ago that mobile websites are a major focus.  As consumers continue to use mobile devices to search for products and services, being able to access and use the information displayed on mobile devices is a strategic focus.  As consumers search, a map displaying the location of the top three requests now appears on the display screen.  Just below the map is a listing of the top three best search results.  A consumer can select the “more” button on the bottom left to see additional search results.

With this new display, you will also notice the phone number has been eliminated.   A website and direction icon have been added to allow the user to get directions to the location and gather data from the website.   When making this same search on a mobile device, the consumer will have a call icon allowing the consumer to click-to-call.  When clicking on the name of the business, the consumer will also have the ability to get directions, visit the website, call, and share this information.

With this new update to Google search, agencies that have placed an emphasis on being in the top of their local listings will most likely see an increase in the number of visits to their website.  On the flip-side, agencies that have not placed an emphasis on SEO will more than likely start to see a decrease in web traffic.

Industry directories seem to have also improved within this new release.  Industry directories include companies such as Yelp, Manta, TripAdvisor, and many others.  Ranking of these sites appears to have improved and can help your agency appear multiple times on a given search result.  Make sure your agency is listed on these sites and that your information is correct including, name, phone number, address and website. Most importantly, make sure you focus on achieving good reviews on each of the industry directories.

 

What Action Should We Take?

As Google continues to make changes to local search, businesses need to keep their focus on continuing to educate staff and understanding how consumers are researching products online.   Below is a list of suggestions that could potentially help your agency increase your ranking with these new changes within Google search:

  1. Make sure your website is mobile-ready.  If it is not, contact your website provider and inquire about the process to update it.
  2. Focus on Reviews. Develop a process within your agency to encourage your clients to give your agency a review.
  3. Make sure your agency is verified by Google. Go to Google My Business and see if your website has been verified by Google.
  4. Search for your website by using different keywords and see where you are in the rankings.
  5. Pay attention to your SEO and develop a plan… Otherwise, you will be left behind!