Last August, Google made changes to its Local Search display like replacing its yellow pages and everything related to making phone calls. Small businesses depend on a strong presence in Google’s Local SEO Rankings. Top 3 is considered the holy grail of Google Local Search Results enabling some businesses to double their business most of the time.
Before August of 2015, Google local search showed the business name, website, rating in stars, number of reviews, local teardrops, and the top seven businesses for every local search. Now only three businesses are displayed instead of seven.
The former bottom half of the previous Top 7 who did not make it into the new Top 3 may be literally “out of business” with the expected decrease in phone calls and sales leading to a sharp drop in profits.
The new “3 pack” only benefits three businesses and the other four are out of luck, as they will end up in the dreaded Google “Page 2” graveyard where less than 30% may wander into during their search.
Even the “3 pack” have to share added ads on mobile devices on top of them, which pushed them down making it even more difficult to be seen. Also, the new Google Map is larger taking up more valuable space from the “3 pack”.
What is a business to do if it is not included in the “3 pack”?
SEO is the answer. Now businesses must increase their SEO strategies to get their websites higher ranked with Google and eventually crack the “3 pack” rankings on Local Searches.
Here is what they need to do:
1. Optimize their Google + page by:
a) Choosing all categories related to the business;
b) Verify that the Map is correct and is displaying the business name, address, and phone numbers;
c) Write a good business description; and
d) Include photos and images to make your site attractive and unique.
2. Use consistent NAP (name, address, and phone number) by not using alternative ones or “we are next to… ” location.
a) Your Google listing must be consistent in all other social media and website platforms;
i.e. If your Google listing Address display is “Street”, your business must state “Street” and not “St.” for every business listing;
b) Create more listings than all of your competitors;
i.e. If you have 3 listings and your competitor has 12 listings, who will Google notice?
c) Use high quality listings;
i.e. List in Google, Facebook, Yelp, Yahoo, Bing, and Citysearch.
Here is a summary of the other changes that Google implemented last August:
• Google removed address and phone numbers from many local search results.
• Google removed review stars for most branded searches.
• Google removed photos from many searches.
• Google SERP display greatly differs for various business types.
In conclusion, using a Local SEO strategy with effective marketing is necessary. Hire a competent, experienced, knowledgeable SEO expert to help you. Google has made it tougher for businesses to get on 1st Page Local Search Results, which shows how important SEO has become.