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!