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Local Search Changes in Google

Long, long ago in the SEO world (way back in the middle of August 2015), it was much easier for businesses to show up in Google Local search results. That’s because local businesses showed up in what’s called a “7 pack,” or a listing that showed a business name, address, phone number, reviews, website link, and a map.

The 7-pack moniker came from the fact that Google would list seven locations near the top of a search results page. So, if you were searching the keywords “tires Pittsburgh,” you would see several Google pay-per-click ads at the top of the page, followed by seven Pittsburgh-area tire stores or service centers.

After August 6, 2015, however, Google shrunk the 7-pack down to only three locations. That’s a big difference for companies who are depending on search results to drive customers to their location or site.

Why This Change?

Within the past year, more Google searches are being performed on mobile devices than PCs in 10 international markets. With a “3-pack” approach to local searches, it’s apparent that Google is taking mobile display results seriously. It’s easier to scroll through three results on a phone or tablet screen, and since there are now more mobile searches than desktop searches being performed, Google is adjusting the results to more easily fit a smaller screen. The user experience for Local Search on a desktop now mirrors that of a mobile search.

What Does It Mean?

If your local business has more than two competitors, it means that only three of you will show up on Google Local Search. Searchers aren’t going to see your business on their phone unless they click on the blue button that directs you to find “more pediatricians,” – and they don’t HAVE to click on it. It’s like being relegated to the second page of a Google results search. The 3-pack results have also nixed the address and phone number, although it shows up once you directly click on the listing.

What Can You Do?

Since you know that more people are looking at searches on their mobile device than their laptop, you’re probably wondering how you can improve your results so that your business has firm footing in the 3-pack. First, you should concentrate on increasing the number of Google reviews that you have and ensuring that you’re garnering good reviews. What previous customers think of you can swing a customer right to (or away from) you. If you want to break into the top three, take a good look at your organic results and see what keywords are drawing potential customers to your site.

If you’re running AdWords, you can also increase the money that you’re spending. If AdWords isn’t a part of your marketing plan, this may be the time to start. Paid listings are the best way that companies with lower organic results can be bumped up to the top.

Higher Images’ SEO team can improve your local search results by helping you capture one of those top three spots. We can also guide you through a pay-per-click program to raise your overall local profile in your area. Call or contact us today to talk to one of our SEO or PPC specialists.