Creative Commons image by Barkbud (Flickr)
About a month ago, Google changed one of their algorithms. The change didn’t get too much attention or publicity outside of local SEO circles, but it has the potential to create quite a stir when it comes to search queries with local intent. In the past, when you searched for a local business, you would see the top seven Google search listings. That 7-pack has now been reduced to just three listings.
If your business has been in 4th through 7th place, this can be disconcerting news. After all, instead of having your business name and contact information come up immediately in searches, users will need to click “more” in order to see your listing. While this might seem like a big negative, the change might not impact you quite as much as you think. Here’s why:
Addresses Are Not Included
If you go to Google and run a search (try “dentists in Chicago,” or “plumbers in Miami,” for example), under the PPC ads, you’ll see a map of the city you entered, along with the top three listings. If you look closely at the listings, however, you will notice that the actual street addresses are not included. The streets are there, but the numbers are not. The phone numbers are also missing.
If you click “more dentists (or plumbers),” a bigger map will come up, along with more listings. If you are in the top dozen or so listings, you might end up in this section. There are still no numbers or full addresses listed. (If a user clicks a particular listing, they will be brought to a page where the contact information is available.)
What this means is that in order to get the information they need, users are going to need to click and click again. When they click “more,” they will have an additional opportunity to see your listing, provided it is in the top handful of listings.
It Might Not Make a Difference, Anyway
Think about this: The reason Google made this change was most likely because the listings below #3 were simply not getting a lot of clicks. If you were getting, say, 5 hits per month before the change, you are likely to get the same number after the change.
One strong possibility here is that on mobile phones, which the majority of Americans are using to access the Internet, really only show three listings comfortably. When people searched before, they would only see the top three listings anyway. They’d need to have a reason to scroll down and see the other four that used to be included.
The Future and You
So, if you are not in the top 3 listings for your industry and locations, what can you do? Obviously, doing what you can to boost your ranking is going to be key. It’s also important to consider what the future may hold. Here are two possibilities:
- Your ratings and reviews might become more important. As a general rule, you should be encouraging your clients to leave you a review or a star rating on your Google+ page. This might pay off in the future, should Google decide to show those star ratings in search results.
- Paid advertising might take center stage. Aside from those PPC ads, you might also begin seeing more paid advertising in what looks like regular listings. Go run a search for locksmiths in San Francisco, and you’ll see what we mean. (At the moment, only plumbers and locksmiths in Frisco are affected by this, but the practice could extend to other industries and locations.)
As with other Google algorithm changes, your response to this change should largely be a matter of waiting and seeing. You can depend on Most Optimal to not only keep you posted on the latest changes when it comes to this search engine giant, but also to help you rank as high as possible to avoid being impacted by these types of changes. Please contact us to find out what we can do for you and your business.