Changes to Local Search

There are times when many SEO’s get frustrated and struggle for changes that Google has made to their algorithm and there is nothing that we can really do about these changes.  We tip toe down the line, slowly waiting for our turn as we place an order for delicious rankings that are unlike any others on the web. We know that this will garner great rewards for our customers so we don’t want to make Google mad.  Then we get to the end of the line, everything we do is submitted and we cross our fingers and hope we make Google happy! But unbeknownst to use there are changes that Google doesn’t tell the world until it goes live and BOOM:

Soup Nazi Local Listings

The Soup….er “Google Nazi” strikes and a change in the algorithm has us all trying to figure out what to do next! This happened literally last night in the search results for Google Local results.  What exactly happened? Why so glad that you asked!

So when you are searching for a local business you probably have noticed that Google understands what you’re asking and will show you a map along with pins connected to a business.  It looked like this on the top of search results:

But last night a change has been made and rather than showing the 7 most relevant results according to Google, known as the Local Pack, is now a pack of 3. Which makes a rather large change to many local businesses that are wanting to be found by customers searching for them.  Now when you start searching for a service such as perhaps a Barber Shop (I do need a trim at the moment) you are going to find a Local Pack with results like this:

In talking with my associates and what exactly is the reasoning why Google is doing this there are a few ideas and reasoning this has taken place. One of the primary goals that Google is always striving for is a better customer/searcher experience, and so we speculate that this may have been done to give customers a better experience that means they spend less time searching.

Another idea is that in moving towards more mobile search compatibility on desktop. So smaller lists of local results means less filled space on a screen and more effective results.  But this could even be for Google’s own benefit and build more space for Google Ads rather than organic search results.  Which is a total possibility, but ultimately we will not know for sure unless Google tells us the reasoning. All we can do now is speculate and move forward.

This is going to cause a drop for sure in traffic to your site, as well as phone calls, but it could possibly change back if this doesn’t create a better experience for Google users.  Only time will tell, and if you have any questions about this change, or would want to learn more about how you can get to the top of this Local Pack then please give us a call and we will be happy to help you!

Jordan Colton

Jordan has worked in SEO for over 5 years on many local, national, and global campaigns. He is also Google Adwords Certified. When he is not working on client's sites he can be found working on various Halloween projects, or watching scary movies.

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