Last month Google rolled out an incredibly important update as to how local businesses are displayed within its results pages. Instead of the usual 7-pack of listings that most consumers and we SEO professionals have grown accustom to, Google now only displays 3 local listings! This was a significant change that also included replacing the exact address with the street name only, removing phone numbers and Google+ links, and adding business hours.
When users click on the title of a business listing in the local pack, they are redirected to a map page with up to 20 other listings. More details of that business are derived from the Google+ page and appear within a popup. Only when users specifically click the website icon are they directed to the business website.
Most discussion among SEOs involves the frequency with which the 3-pack is being displayed and the likely change in visibility in search results for clients. Recent research from SEO Clarity revealed that the new local listing 3-pack shows in the #1 rank position 93 percent of the time, a big increase from the 25 percent of the time that the old 7-pack was shown in the first position. This new format confirms Google’s mission to localize its results.
The bottom line for SEOs is that local search optimization is an absolute must. Optimizing for the local pack means that the information provided in Google My Business is of the utmost importance.
Among the easier optimization tactics for Google My Business is ensuring NAP data (name, address and phone number) is accurate, as well as listing the company’s website, hours of operation and the payment types accepted.
Google also advises picking a primary business category out of its list of suggestions, as well as other specific categories, to improve the company’s visibility in the result pages. For example, an HVAC company would want to choose several categories such as “Air Conditioning Repair Service”, “Furnace Repair Service”, and “Air Conditioning Contractor” to optimize their visibility.
Also, reviews play an even more important role in search with fewer businesses immediately showing in the local pack. Companies should not only request reviews on their Google+ pages, but also monitor and reply to them, good or bad, to have the active online presence that is essential for SEO.
Photos are another factor within the local pack listing. Using Google My Business, companies can select a “first photo” and other business-specific photos that may appear on Google maps and Google search. Businesses should indicate their preferences for the photos, to control the portrayal of the company online.
As you can see, Google My Business is an essential piece of the puzzle for local SEO. The staff at Marketing Type Guys uses this and other proven SEO techniques to improve your visibility on the web!
Thanks to Website Magazine for providing information for this article.