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Importance of Optimization for Google’s Local Business Search Engine Has Dramatically Increased

the following article explains why optimization has become even more critical for Local Sales Growth with Google…

If you are part of a business interested in local sales growth with Google marketing efforts, you should know the following:

  • 85% of consumers search for local businesses online

Your best chance of capturing some of the 85% is to show up on page 1 of Google’s local business search engine. The best way to do this is to optimize the information Google’s search engine has about your business. Google has made some recent changes which makes the optimization steps even more important if your business is going to show up.

Google has changed the quantity of local businesses they are showing from searches done in their local business search engine results. The previous “local 7-pack” was replaced by the “local 3-pack” (AKA the “snack pack”); which means only three results are displayed in the local listing results instead of seven.

Having your business show up in the 7-pack results was extremely valuable when it comes to putting your business in front of local consumers who are searching for your type of product or service.

However, now four spots are gone in that prime real estate section of the results page.  So you have to work even harder to get your local listing to show up on the first page of the results, which means working your way into one of the limited top three spots.

What else has changed?

In addition to the results being trimmed down, several other changes were made that will definitely impact the search experience for users:

  1. Specific addresses from the listings have also been removed from the results page – only the street name is visible. Users now have to click through to the full listing (or click on their website link) to get the exact address of the business.
  2. Phone numbers have also been removed from the results page. However, on mobile devices, there is a “call” option, which is a bit of relief for mobile searchers.
  3. Google links have been removed.
  4. Labeled as “Google Reviews” before the update, now they are simply called “Reviews.” The number of reviews each business has still shows, which is good.
  5. Listings now show each businesses’ hours of operation, based on when the search is performed. For instance, searchers will now see “Closes at,” or “Closes Soon”, or “Opens at,” etc.
  6. Before, the local card for the business would pop up when we scroll over the listing. Now, you will have to click through to the second page to see the “Card.”
  7. Once you click on a listing now, it opens to a new search view with a longer list of competitors, a version of the old local card, and a map of the business.

The Impact

Now that there are fewer available slots for local listings that show up in search results, you could experience a major decline in website traffic, phone calls, and new customers if you ranked in positions 4-7 before the switch.  

However, those companies that show in the 3-pack are likely to receive even more attention; so this is your new goal – to get your company listed in one of those top three positions.

example of 3 pack from google search of “sedona dentist”:

example of 3 pack copy from google search of “sedona general contractors”:

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