There was a notable upset when Google announced it’s decision to reduce the local pack to three listings from the familiar seven. This caused many search marketers to throw their hands into the air and bemoan their lost position in the local search.
But there is a way to stay competitive in local search and this article is here to illustrate how. First, let’s look at biggest changes that this switch from seven to three listings has had on internet marketing.
Recent Changes to Google Local Search
The older local seven pack include the names of the businesses as well as phone numbers, addresses and more. Now all this is gone except for the addresses.
For a better user experience, searchers can still find information on scheduled opening hours in the place of phone numbers. This way they can know if the business they are searching for is about to open or close. There is an important condition for this involving Schema markup and I will delve into this further in my explanation.
Clicking on the name of a business will allow the searcher to access additional information held on a particular business. Clicking on the name will open an expanded info window with the complete name, phone number and physical address.
The former setup had information linked to Google Plus business pages, these are all gone. Google has now provided a more direct link to the website of the business in question. This is particularly useful to local business as it can direct more traffic to the company’s main website. This is the central point of any online marketing strategy, at least those not linked to social media pages.
There is no change to the reviews and the stars can be used when reviewing. You will find that these can be displayed as they always have been since they are less associated to Google+ and closely linked to the Google Maps Integration. Google Maps is still an important focal point for conducting local business searches.
But other than maps, what is another aspect of the old listings that still matter? This is our very next point to cover.
Most Important Aspects of Local Search
Not that we have a clearer view of local search, let’s take a look at a neat bullet point display compiling all the above mentioned information.
- What was a seven pack is now a three pack.
- Google Maps is as important as ever in the local search.
- Google Plus is less of an issue then it was before.
- Websites have become more visible.
- Phone numbers easily found but not as visible as they had been.
- Reviews and Review Stars are still viewed in the same way.
Any search marketer will admit going from seven listings to three is a scary notion. Even more so when you think that your listings will be viewed alongside the listings of your major competitors, even when the expanded view is opened.
Once again this poses the question “How will I keep ahead of the competition in local search? Make no mistake about this, you will have to make some important adjustments to your approach to local search.
Optimizing Your Local Search Marketing Objective
If you are still competing for spots on the new local 3 pack, you are moving in the wrong direction. This is because these positions are now based on the location of the user. The results for the new local pack will be presented as they are relevant to the physical location of the searcher. There is, however, a very clear way to see options for more business results. This is where the competition starts to get thick. People are no longer selecting the first item they are presented with, they are conducting deeper searches. With this in mind, consider my take on what your new local search marketing objectives should look like.
Where can this information be found nowadays? The Google Search. This is why it is so important for a business to provide Google with all the information they want presented to users searching for their business. This can be accomplished in a great many ways.
Here is a list that we will discuss in detail further in this explanation.
- Your website’s on-page content
- Build local backlinks
- Your website’s off-page signals
- Offline marketing
- Google Maps
- Local review
Optimizing Your Website’s On-Page Content for Local Search
When the Googlebot crawls your site for indexing reasons it needs to find your physical location. One great idea is to create a page for each physical location in which your business provides service. So that your locations are unique it is essential that the text info on these locations is completely unique.
Additionally, each page you create should feature on Google Maps and have Schema embedded into the page with the address, telephone number and name of the business. More information on how to setup the Schema markup on your local search can be found here: https://schema.org/docs/documents.html