Google’s Most Recent Update To Local Search –August 2015
And It's Effect On Local Business...
Earlier this month Google has made a change to the way in which local search results are displayed in the search engine results page (S.E.R.P.). This shift has caught many people by surprise and whether a consumer, business owner, or SEO professional, everyone is going to se an impact at some point in the very near future. Just how big of an impact will this shift bring? Read on to find out.
What Does the Change Look Like?
If you are familiar with the way in which local search results have been displayed in the past, then you may have a good idea as to what the “seven spot” is. The seven spot (see figure to the right) is a term coined by SEO’s referring to the 1st seven local results (A-G), which were displayed on the first page of the S.E.R.P. This was the spot that every local business strived to reach and what SEO professionals worked very hard to achieve for their clients.
With the recent shift Google has made, there are now only 3 spots for local businesses to show on the first page of local results. (See figure to the right). Note: you can however click on the “more” link below the results to be taken to the full list of local search results.
Besides for the obvious change in the number of available spots for businesses to show, the following changes have also taken place.
- Website URL’s have been removed and have been replaced with a link to the companies website (In some cases).
- Company Phone #’s have been removed as well. Now you have to click on the business name or website to find phone #’s.
- Business Address has been partially removed and only displays the road the business is located on.
- Clicking the Business Name now takes you to a Google property and not to the company website.
- Google + Page is now hidden.
- Business Reviews now require multiple clicks before the page is opened.
Why Did Google Launch The Update?
The exact reasons for the shift have still remained in the dark by Google, but a few assumptions have begun to unfold by advertisers and search professionals alike. As you may know, Google makes over 95% of their income on paid advertisements (Adwords). These ads are displayed above, below, and to the right of the search results page. Many professionals believe a huge shift in search results is beginning to unfold and that the rise of paid advertisements will be the future of search engine results.
How Will it Affect Local Businesses?
Now that there are only 3 spots available, any local business who used to show up in spots 4-7 will no longer have 1st page visibility. Instead, they will be lumped in with all other local businesses in their area and they only way consumers will find them is if they click the “more” link below the results. This is great news for the top 3 performers, but could be detrimental to businesses that do not make the top 3 cut. If businesses want to be seen they have a few choices to make.
1) Pay Google to be shown among the top 3 results.
2) Pay Google to start an Adwords campaign.
3) Not increase spending, which will decrease exposure and result in loss of business.
The End Result
Regardless of what choice business owners decide to make, this shift will affect everyone including consumers, businesses, and advertisers. In the very near future our projection is that there will be a huge increase in paid advertisements and will results in local and organic results being pushed further and further down the S.E.R.P.