Google Maps Shake Up Local Results With New Update
Google have recently rolled out a new update to how it shows local searches. This update has completely changed the layout of local results. Google have always shown 7 'local' pages when a search is done with local intent. By this I mean that if a local search was carried out, for example 'Derby Plumbers' Google would show 7 Google My Business pages (formally known as Google Places and Google Local). This was great as it meant if your website was not ranking for this keyword on the first page of Google, you could push your Google My Business page and try and get that to rank. The new update however means that now Google only shows 3 'local' pages. In simple terms, Google have cut the number of Google My Business pages that show. In this article I will be discussing what the new update looks like, what this means for your Google My Business page and what impact it could potentially have on your local dominance.
What does the new update look like?
Lets first discuss what the new layout looks like and what features Google have decided to add and drop. The biggest noticeable change is that now only 3 local pages show at the top of Google’s SERP. Before there were at least 7, depending on what the search was. You are able to click a 'more' button which will expand the list and show you more results. Here is a screenshot for the search 'Derby Plumbers':
One of the most surprising features to be dropped is showing the phone number of the business. If the searcher wants to find out your businesses phone number they now need to click the link through to your website. This means you need to make sure your website displays your number in a clear and easy format for the searcher to see. If you are struggling with what else you need to include on your Homepage here is an article which can help - What Your Business Homepage Design Needs To Include.
Another even more surprising feature which has been dropped by Google is that you no longer get to see the link for the businesses Google+ page. Google+ was always a big platform that Google pushed into the faces of any user, but now it seems that Google have taken a step back to re-evaluate their position on Google+. A feature which isn't new but has been given a bigger role, is the opening hours of the business. This now displays just under the business name and review score. One of the most controversial changes is that the full address is no longer displayed, only part of the address is shown. If the searcher wants to see the address they can either click on the directions button or click through to the website and find it from there.
What does this mean for your Google My Business Page?
If you were already showing in the top 3 then this doesn't really affect your business page. If you have always been struggling to battle it out for the top 3, then this could be a problem for your business page. The best action to take is to continue with what you have been doing, making regular updates to your page will show Google that you are active and that you want to show at the top of the SERPS. Another great strategy that you can take is to try and gain as many reviews as you can, whenever you have finished with a satisfied customer send a final thank you email to them and mention that a review on your Google page would be greatly appreciated. Reviews are becoming more and more crucial so its so important that you start to build up a great reputation on your Google page. If however you receive a negative review, here is an article which can help - How to Deal With Bad Reviews for Your Business in Google
Do you still need a verified Google My Business Page?
This is a question which can spark many people to give different answers depending on what view they have taken from the updates. There are a large number of people out there that believe this update is purely beneficial to Google and does not help local businesses at all. On the other hand there are people that love the new update. Google have always placed verified business pages highly on local searches as these are normally not only verified but are also 100% complete.
However this was when Google allowed users to get onto Google My Business pages, now they do not give you an option. The only bit of information they now show from your Google My Business page is your opening hours, business name, part of your address and a link to your website. This has been massively stripped down from what they use to show. Your next question may be 'What is the point of verifying and completing my Google Business page if Google aren't even showing it?' This is not an easy question to answer. Google haven't come out and given a definite answer to this, however the best advice would be to continue to do as much as possible to give Google as much information about your business as you possibly can! Even if Google aren't showing all your details on your Google My Business page they will still store and analyse the data you give them. For all we know Google could be planning another update to how it shows local results and all your information could be put on display. You just need to make sure you're keeping up-to-date with what Google are doing next and then act on it.
Article by: Adam Jones