Throughout this month, local search users will witness a significant shift in Google Local Search as Google looks set to reduce the number of local search content from 7 down to just 3 results. The local search shake-up is expected to have a major effect on local business traffic in what is the biggest change since the Google ‘Pigeon’ algorithm update in September 2014.
With the forthcoming changes, our Cheshire web design team will review the new features along with what potential this may have on local business search and Google’s motive behind the update.
The Local Search Change
As you can see from the before and after image below, the most significant change is that Google now only displays the first 3 local search locations that have local search intent, a significant drop from the 7 search results that SEO specialists refer to as ‘Google Local 7 Pack’.
The ‘Google Local 7 Pack’ will showcase a local business’ name, address, phone number, opening hours and map along with any other additional information such as reviews or latest Google Plus post. Information that is convenient for local search users….
Local 7 Pack Reduced to Local 3
Before the update, local listings were shown in packs of 3, 5 or 7 depending on what device was used. This meant that more local businesses still had a chance to squeeze into the first search results page. For businesses that were positioned in 4th to 7th place, were still provided with a great brand marketing opportunity, so competition and click-through traffic just became much harder…
Why reduce the numbers? Well it’s a good question. Google is on a real high to try and address mobile and tablet traffic so when you perform the same search on a mobile device, you will receive identical search results so the mobile, tablet and desktop results all appear the same. Don’t worry, though, you can still access more local businesses with a simple click of a button but more on that later.
Business Address & Phone Number Change
You may have also noticed the not so subtle business address change in the new update. Instead of having instant access to the full business address along with the phone number on the right-hand side, you are now just presented with the first line of the address and opening times if applicable.
If you require any additional information, unfortunately you’re now on your own to look for it yourself.
Example of how you now have to access local business information.
Search by Ratings
Although I think this is a rather neat feature, for local businesses that exist in customer-orientated industries such as restaurants, ratings have become even more pivotal in local search!
As you can see from the example, Google has now added the option for users to search and select businesses that are above a certain rating. As you can see, I now have the option to search from two stars or higher, three stars or four stars and higher! Obviously this is a cool feature for users but the pressure of getting reviews has increased for businesses in these industries.
In more competitive searches, such as restaurants in large towns or cities you have more filter’s to choose from such as cuisine, price, hours and more…
Inside the new change, when searching “Knutsford Web Design” after the first 3 listings, you have the option to click “More Web Design”. Inside the new update, you are now presented with the top 10 search listings which would appear on Page 1 of Google.
Well inside the new change, when searching “Knutsford Web Design” in the example, after the three listings you have the option to click “More Web Design”. Now you have presented with the top 10 search listings which would usually appear on Page 1 of Google along with instant map containing all 10 listings along with access to any reviews.
The local search shake-up certainly has both its merits and flaws for local businesses. If you happen to be in the top 3 searches, then great! Changes are you are only likely to gain more exposure in click through rates. For businesses who have been effect, don’t worry, there are still plenty of positives to take away if you appear inside the Top 10 Search Results. For example, if you are ranked 10th, you have as much exposure as those who rank much higher.
If you would like to discuss adjusting your local search strategy or if you would like any tips on how you can appear inside the top 10 search results for certain keywords, get in touch with the Cheshire web design experts. Why not pop in for a coffee and a chat or call our Knutsford office on 01565 653616.