It’s been about 2 weeks since Google updated their local search results. We’ve been monitoring the impact and here’s some things we’ve found:
Google has reduced the number of first page local search results from 7 to 3. There’s no indication that this is an algorithm change so if your business ranked number 1-3 before for a local search, your business should still be ranking number 1-3 after this change. However, if you ranked number 4-7 in the local search results, your business is no longer showing up.
Update: Google’s Local Search Results
For most local businesses, this change comes with good AND bad news. Let’s chat about the bad news first.
The Bad News
The bad news about 4 Less Local Search Results in Google is that if you weren’t in the top 3, then potential customers now have to take an extra step in order to find your business.
As shown in the image below of the new google local search for “lombard dentist”, potential customers will have to click the “more dentist” link at the bottom of the 3 listings in order to see the businesses listed number 4 and on.
We expect this to significantly impact the number of calls that the businesses ranked outside the top 3 will be receiving moving forward. Prior to the change searchers could compare 7 different businesses, including their location on the map, the number of reviews they have, the total rating of those reviews, how many pictures the business has, whether they have a virtual tour, and on… these options gave businesses ranked 4-7 the opportunity to compete with the top 3.
Now that there are only 3 local business results on the first page, businesses 4-7 have less of a chance to compete with the searcher that wants to make a quick decision and isn’t willing to make that extra click.
The Good News
The good news about there being 4 less local search results in Google local search is that the businesses in the top 3 spots of the local search results should expect to get a larger share of the calls from that searhc. Since searchers have less businesses to initially choose from, they’re much more likely to call a business from one of the 3 options listed.
The new Google local search results also removed the number of “clickable” options available to the a local searcher. It’s removed the link to the Google+ page and shortened the address, making a click to the website, getting driving directions, and calling the business the main action options. From a conversions point-of-view, this is great news as all the options are pointing searchers in the direction of becoming a patient or customer, with fewer distractions.
Conclusion and Actionable Tips
The main conclusion is that Google is continuing to invest in the quality of local search results, so local SEO (search engine optimization) continues to be an important place for local businesses to invest that are serious about getting customers from the internet.
A couple actionable tips for local businesses:
- Keep an eye on your analytics to see how this ends up impacting your local organic traffic. If you’ve setup your Google My Business page then you can view the analytics on your page, including the number of clicks to your website, directions to your business, and number of phone calls.
- Invest in getting more positive reviews from your customers. Google knows that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations and they’re continuing to use customer reviews as a factor in the results they show. We continue to see businesses with reviews outranking businesses that don’t. With only 3 spots available, a 5 star reputation is becoming more important. Learn more about our reputation marketing program.
Have questions about your local search rankings or finding more customers from the internet? Contact us for a free internet marketing consultation.