As everyone knows, Google never stops changing. Google on one day will likely never be the same again. So it should come as no surprise to you that a recent update may have far-reaching impact for your websites and the traffic you get from the search giant. The latest update, focus on local searches and the incorporation of maps and local listing suggestions embedded in the traditional search results page. If you remember back, you would see the Google maps applet on the right and 5 to 7 local listings embedded on the first page of your search results when you looked up some general local keyword such as “bakery New York City”. If you run the same search now, you will notice that the layout is different with the map in the center of the search results as opposed to the right and with only 3 options listed under it in a much sleeker box.
But the changes do not stop at the positioning of the content. If you look closely, you will notice that no phone numbers appear directly in the results anymore as they once did. This will force users to actually visit the websites more often, making the navigation and content of your website all the more important. The low hanging fruit for some webmasters is now gone in that regard and more effort will have to go into ensuring that the website is up-to-date and the contact information is prominently presented.
The change to the number of listings on the SERPs page only means more competition and needing to really be tougher in order to reap the benefits of that first page local search embed. The second page of search results is pretty much a dead man’s land in comparison to the first and these local results are likely no different. In terms of the traffic and exposure they generate, the results in the “more” section are going to be nowhere near the top three and especially not near the first place listing.
With all of these very serious changes to the local search algorithms it is important to fine tune your local SEO strategy in order to reap the maximal potential benefits. This means having good, quality content that is recognizable by search engine algorithms (no pictures of text!) and that also informs potential customers on what they may be looking for. If you are in an area that has a lot of competition like a big city, it will be especially crucial to remain competitive by staying on top of both your on-site and off-site optimization. Part of this strategy may be looking at what your competitors are doing, especially if they are ranking better than you in these new search results- from there you can try to emulate it and preferably to optimize it even further so that you get the edge. Hopefully in the long-run those changes will propel you over your competition and you won’t have to worry about dropping from the first page because you’ll be in the top three!