Big update in Google’s local search results
New 3-pack local listings — less visibility for your local business?
A major change in Google’s local search presents a new way of listing local businesses in search results, changing the previous “local 7-pack”, where seven local businesses were featured, to a trimmed “local 3-pack” view.
And while the SEO industry is shaken up with lots of polar opinions on how the change will influence local visibility and traffic, we’ve put up a short guide to help you make sense of the update:
What has actually changed in local SERPs?
The update that rolled out simultaneously in the USA and internationally, has drastically changed the look-n-feel and the navigation within the local packs. So, let’s have a closer look at the new local listings.
Before the update, local listings were shown in packs of 3, 5 or 7, meaning that more local businesses had a chance to squeeze in to the first search results page, even if they didn’t perform well organically.
A move to 3-pack listings obviously makes competition for page-one listings even harder.
Google has also removed the phone numbers and exact addresses from the listings, instead only showing the name of the street where the business is located. So, unlike before the update, searchers are no longer given your business contact information upfront and need to look for it on their own.
Going even further, Google not only removed contact info from the initial view, but also disabled all 1-click ways to access it. All links to Google My Business pages were removed. And local cards (that previously popped up when you scrolled through the 7 pack listing) got hidden. Now, clicking on a listing opens a new search view with a map, a list of 20 competitors, and a version of the old local card.
What these changes mean for your local business?
Sure thing, it’s too early to make grounded conclusions, and the real impact of this update is yet to be seen (as well as some adjustments to the new local pack, as the mechanism itself seems to be quite buggy and unstable).
But while at first glance the update seems to make life only harder for local businesses, in reality there may now be MORE exposure opportunity for MORE businesses.
1 The top-3 local results are in rotation — depending on the searcher’s physical location.
In the in-house test over for the past few days, we’ve compared local results for “Plumbers in Seattle”, each time browsing Google using 10 different Seattle IP addresses.
In each of the locations we were getting at least slightly different results, which showed that 2 searchers standing just several miles away from each other will probably see different local packs in Google.
For example, one and the same business, Beacon Plumbing, that ranked 3rd for a search on 13th Ave S, Seattle ranked only 8th (on the map view) for a searcher standing 5 miles away.
On the other hand, Fox Plumbing & Heating that didn’t show up on the SERP for the first searcher, was served in the local pack for the second searcher.
With many of the older navigation options disabled – including Google My Business links and flyout business card – now, instead of instantly picking the right business on the SERP, the searchers need to switch to the new 20-business map view to dig out the contact information and addresses of the businesses they got interested in. Thus, even if you weren’t listed on the SERP, you still get a high chance of being noticed.
As countless CTR studies show, a huge percentage of searchers find organic results more trustworthy, trying to avoid any “alien” results on the SERPs. And now, while the redesigned local pack looks even less like the organic snippets, chances are that more searchers will stick to organic results. Thus, if you don’t perform that well in local listings, there may be even more opportunity to earn organic traffic either directly to your websites, or to your business pages in the Yelp-like directories.
Contact us Today to find out how Google’s Update has affected your Website and how we can help you capitalize on these changes in the future.