Your Google local business map entries are changing. As of early August Google have adjusted their listings so that only THREE ads will show in the search results where there was previously up to seven, depending on what you were looking for.
If we now search for ‘accountants london’ we see only three spots:
Make no mistake – this is a huge change. Let’s look at the before and after for the plumbing sector:
In essence, we find Google again tightening their grip on the organic (non-sponsored results in their listings) and trying to funnel companies into using Google Adwords. After all, wouldn’t you if you were Google and that was how you made your money?
Google have also removed the telephone numbers and complete addresses from these updated 3-pack listings and now only show the street name. If you want to contact these companies now you need to look them up manually.
If you click on the the text area shown in the arrow below, only then do you now get taken to a list of around 20 competitors:
Clicking this shows:
More people will click through to the 20-business list
As there a more restricted initial list of 3 results it will most probably follow that more searchers will click through to the next page of 20 in the list. After all, people like choice and 3 isn’t a great deal even if they are occasionally being rotated if you are a few miles down the road.
Other changes to the Google local business include changes to the older navigation options being disabled as well. This includes fly-out business cards and Google My Business links. Instead of being able to straight away click on their chosen business from the larger list of 7, people will eventually re-learn their habits and choose the larger list giving your business a greater chance of getting found in the Google local results.
How can you use this change to benefit your Google local business result?
We think this change is a good opportunity. When we did some testing we discovered that if you are even only a few miles away this list of top 20 websites generally remains unchanged with slight variations as you log on from a different location. The results do not seem to change drastically, but more re-order themselves with the same businesses in a slightly different order depending on your location.
We suspect a more even distribution of search results for businesses so it could be a silver lining.
If there any top tips we could give about Google local business listings, they would be:
1) Fill out your Google My Business page properly
2) Grab your Google My Business listing if you haven’t done it yet and do your very best to fill out the important details, including:
1. A long, unique description that is formatted correctly with links.
2. Choose the right categories for your business.
3. Upload a high-resolution logo and or/profile image or photo.
4. Upload as many photos as you are able to.
5. Add a local telephone number to your listing.
6. Add your business address that is consistent with the address on your website and other business directories.
Earn some Google+ reviews
Though they are no longer called Google reviews, the reviews from your Google My Business page will still be used for the local 20 and 3 pack results.
If your business is food-related your online business ratings are going to become even more crucial. Google have also added a filter to only show businesses above a certain rating, much like Booking.com do with booking hotels.
While employing an SEO campaign using either us at the Click Experts or another company is a good idea, we always recommend that you first of all register your business in Google for free. There is every possibility that Google might reward you without spending any money with an SEO company and you might find that you appear without spending any money on SEO services.
Try waiting 2 or 3 months after signing-up and see how you get on; only then consider employing an SEO company is always our recommendation.
Google are forcing people down the Adwords route
Google continue to tighten their grip by making it harder to get your business found without using Google Adwords. They are also making it harder for SEO companies to get your company found online with their increasingly frequent Google algorithm updates.
It is not all doom and gloom however; we like to think of shaking up the Google results and making things harder as not all bad. Shaking the tree gets rid a lot of the cowboy SEO companies that without doubt have probably cold-called you almost daily. In fact, many SEO companies are even throwing in the towel as it is becoming just too difficult to stay on top of Google’s regular ranking change algorithms.