WARNING: Google's Latest Ranking Change is HUGE for local businesses!

BIG news in the SEO world broke out recently: Google is changing rankings again! This time instead of adding Mobile Friendly ranking factors, Google is changing how local businesses appear on search engine results pages.... as well as if they appear at all. If you don't rank in the top 3 spots for your local keyword search phrase, this might be devastating for your business!

Google Local 3-Pack in Search Results

As of August 6, 2015, Google has changed the way businesses will display in search results. Previously, there were up to 7 local businesses displayed at the top of a page, called the "local 7-pack." Google has trimmed that to a "local 3-pack" view so it's much more difficult to appear at the top of a page without detailed organic SEO efforts or paid advertising. 

Google's August 2015 changes to local listings include:

  • Removal of businesses addresses and phone numbers
  • Only three businesses featured at the top of a page
  • Flyout business cards and "Google my business" links have been removed.
  • See detailed screenshots and more information from our valuable partner SEO PowerSuite

Why Did Google Change Local Business Rankings?

Unless we can get Matt Cutts himself to find and comment on our post, we'll never know for sure, but it's being speculated that we can pin this one on Mobile usage, just like other recent algorithm changes. The 7-pack of local search results looks great from a desktop computer, but 3-packs fit perfect on mobile device screens.

How will Google's Local Business Ranking Change Affect Your Website?

This change to Google is so new that no one is exactly sure how it will fully affect businesses yet. But it's designed to make local searches more accurate based on the searcher's physical location. This means that people searching from an IP address even a few miles away from each other are getting different results based on their precise location.

And obviously, showing up in the top 3 instead of the top 7 makes ranking much more difficult. 

A Ray of Hope for Local Business Rankings...

According to SEO Powersuite: "With many of the older navigation options disabled – including Google My Business links and flyout business card – now, instead of instantly picking the right business on the SERP, the searchers need to switch to the new 20-business map view to dig out the contact information and addresses of the businesses they got interested in. Thus, even if you weren't listed on the SERP, you still get a high chance of being noticed."

In other words, if you rank in the top 20 for your local search keywords, you will still have the opportunity to be seen by all visitors using the business map view for results.

What Can Be Done to Improve Local Business Rankings on Google?

  1. Encourage customers more than ever to leave a Google rating for your business. Researchers can now choose to see only businesses with a specific rating, currently choosing from 2, 3, or 4 stars and higher.
  2. Setup your Google+ page for your business and populate it with your blog posts if you aren't already doing so. The Google might start changing the role of Google+ but it's still important for now.
  3. Review (or have an expert review) your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions so they work well with Google and are equally compelling to humans too. Meta Descriptions or "snippets" should be engaging and short to grab people's attention.
  4. Sign up for Google Web Master Tools, verify your website with Google (not from a telemarketing scammer), and make sure your Google My Business page is complete with a unique description, business categories, images, open hours and contact information.
  5. Include your name, address and phone number on every page of your website. If you are near a much larger city, mention you are "near" that city.

If you are overwhelmed with the tasks needed for improving your Google local search results, please contact us at Alternative Advertising for a quote. We'd love to help!

6 Ways to Make An Impact with Marketing in 2015

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There are many ways to make an impact with Marketing in 2015; but as inbound marketing is still be tested for different industries some strategies are falling short while others are proving to be surprisingly successful. We know you don't want uncertainty; that's why we've got 6 sure-fire ways to make an impact with marketing here...

1. Email Marketing

Although technology has come a long way in the realm of marketing, do not discount the power of promotional marketing via email. Based on a recent Forbes article, email marketing scored pretty low on the level of difficulty involved with set up and managing, yet it was still considered effective. Automated tools like Greenrope make email marketing a snap. And if you are already writing content for blogs, the heavy lifting is already being done. You can setup automated email summaries of your blog posts in a snap, even if you don't write new material for emails.

2. Landing Pages

AKA the online sales brochure is creating mega waves on the digital marketing scene under the umbrella of "inbound marketing." Landing pages offer a two prong approach. First, a landing page allows a visitor to focus on one product or service without the hassle of navigating on their own for more information. Everything they need to know including making the purchase is on one page. Second, creating multiple landing pages for specific targeted audiences increases effectiveness in your marketing efforts. You can deliver the specific content your buyer persona is looking for, and direct them where you'd like them to go next in their exploration and purchasing process.

3. Direct Mail

With digital marketing all the craze, you'd be surprised how a laser-focused direct mail campaign can make a big impact. We've had success with several clients choosing a very small list of high-potential customers and sending an upscale or 3D mailer that truly gets noticed. The win with this option is that your segmented audience is more likely to read information when it is physically in their hands, especially when the direct mail has personalization or a 3D aspect you can't ignore. This option does require more research but tends to drive big results.

4. Social Media

Target audiences where they spend their time - people are on social media, all the time, all over the world, and for various reasons. Social Media Marketing is one method that most campaigns should not go without if your audience is socially active. Whether you manage this internally or hire a pro to do it for you, the power of social media continues to increase and there are no signs of it losing traction any time soon. The trick with social media is to research where your target audience hangs out and then learn everything about that platform including best times of the day to post and optimal frequency. Social media can provide the most effective way to build relationships and connect directly to actual customers. The kicker with social media is transparency - we recommend using this to your advantage and if someone posts a complaint, address is quickly and directly so the world can see that you care and are attentive. When added to your promotional marketing arsenal make sure you have the proper team to post, tweet, and pin consistently as well as offer timely responses to your fans and followers.

5. Content Marketing

Creating awesome share-worthy content is the third leg of marketing. People want information and they want it all the time. But they do not just want information, they want valuable information geared toward the proper stage of their buyer's journey or their specific interests. Content marketing is the path to building trust with your audience. It's about providing the information your ideal customer is looking for - not just cramming goods and services down their throats. Your website designer should keep this in mind. Marketing is also about providing a positive personal experience, which makes content marketing and traditional marketing a powerful duo. People love to feel valued and will reward companies with their business when they feel they have received value even before opening their wallets.

6. Blogging

This brings us to the twin sister of content marketing - Blogging. Blogging is not only the mirror image of content marketing, it is a powerful search engine optimization tool. Written correctly with well researched target keywords in place, each blog is a tiny line of bait in a vast sea of content that may pull your ideal customer to your site. Consistent blogging about topics that interest your customers will build trust and relationships with potential customers.

If you have any marketing or sales questions, comments or feedback, please contact us at Alternative Advertising. We'd love to chat!