Sep 09 2015 | by HAYLEY YATES
As we all know, Google is constantly evolving its service and over the last month, we've seen changes in its branding too, as it announced 'Alphabet' and launched its pretty new logo and technicolour 'G' icon. However, with so many public announcements of Google updates, their changes to local search results may have gone unnoticed, and they should not be ignored.
Back on the 6th August, Google changed the look of local search across both desktop and mobile search results. But this change was not purely aesthetic as the search engine results page now only returns three ‘packs’ of local search results as opposed to the seven it previously showed.
The changes came as quite a surprise as Google rolled out the update globally without notice, rather than the audience testing and gradual roll-out of updates that we’ve all become accustomed to.
Nicknamed the ‘Snack pack’, this is how the display looks for a Google search of ‘Bakery Worcestershire’ on mobile and desktop view:
The change was made with mobile users in mind (a consideration we have seen more and more frequently from Google) as three packs fit neatly onto a standard-sized mobile screen, but this update is not quite as simple as it first seems, as Google hasn’t just changed the number of businesses that feature within local listings on search results; it’s also changed the following aspects:
Why the changes?
Unsurprisingly, the improved search experience for mobile users is not the only reason that Google have rolled out this update. With the more competitive nature of the ‘snack pack’ today, this update will inevitably drive more companies to consider spending their marketing budget on Adwords campaigns in order to increase their local search visibility... clever Google!
Not only this, but in adding extra steps for the user, Google have ensured that people use their products for longer and click through more often, giving them the chance to charge more for advertising services. The change suggests a shift in focus from Google, possibly towards a ‘pay-to-play’ model, which is great for large businesses with large budgets, but what about small businesses?
Who does this affect?
Due to the fact that local and organic listings on the first page of Google search results have been reduced by almost a quarter, this update will have a big effect on small businesses who are reliant on their local visibility in Google for sales and leads.
If you're not in the top three, what can you do?
In short, small businesses who rely on local and organic listings need to start focusing their efforts into local SEO. AlphaQuad have put together some top tips to help small businesses aim for the top 3:
Get reviewed: The update places more emphasis on getting reviews and building a comprehensive list of references... think of it of a business CV! So make sure that you are getting reviews and references to strengthen your SEO efforts.
Prioritise citations: Make sure your business is listed on directories that are relevant, ensuring that all the information listed is up to date and accurate!
Review your local organic search strategy: Follow all the best practices to ensure your local business page has been optimised.
Focus on organic: Work harder on SEO best practice techniques to improve your search ranking - Think unique, super-relevant content, plenty of outreach, clever internal linking and clear URLs.
Don’t rely on traditional link-builders: It is no longer enough to rely wholly on links, reviews and directory listings, get marketers on board who will think beyond the basics to get your brand out there!
If you think your business may be affected by the latest Google update, get in touch to chat about how we can help!
Google Snack Packs & Local SEO