Google Changes Local Businesses Need to Know About in 2017
Google has a long history of algorithm changes and search index refreshes, updates that are made in an effort to provide end users with the best possible search experience. In 2017, the Google changes are impacting local SEO and reputation for local businesses.
Local SEO Changes
Google continues to update the display for local search results in the Local Pack (local listing including business name, location, etc.). Most recently the changes include removing the directions, website and call buttons from listings, replacing them with an image in some queries. It appears that these changes have only hit certain areas at the moment, while some verticals are staying with the button display. For example, retail establishments and restaurants are usually the quickest to conform to most search display changes ahead of others.
How the Display Changes Can Impact You
The new display changes do make it harder for consumers to contact local businesses or visit their website’s because it adds a couple of additional steps to get to the site, directions, to call, etc. It’s a good idea to keep track of your local organic search traffic to see how or if the display changes are having an impact on your local search results. If your business is in a vertical section that has been influenced by this change, anticipate seeing a drop in this area. Check out your Google My Business insights as well to see if anything has changed in your websites visits, phone calls or direction requests in the “customer actions” report. If you haven’t set up your “My Business” page yet, none of this applies to you, but you should do it now or have a local SEO expert do it for you.
Google SERP Changes that Have Had the Most Impact
A number of key changes in Google’s SERP layout have taken place, including direct answers, featured snippets, twitter feed, AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), PageRank Zero, mobile snippets and new ad formats. The “Possum” algorithm update had the most significant impact on Google’s SERP, affecting 64% of local SEO listings. This immense local algorithm update occurred in September 2016, making the local search results depend on the searcher’s location, using proximity tests to determine whether or not the business is qualified to rank.
How Your Reputation Effects Google Ranking
If you’re a business owner, you’ve probably already heard the term “reputation management”. Well, today, what your customers have to say about you on sites like Yelp plays a crucial role in Google’s algorithm. Thanks to today’s Digital Age customers can easily leave reviews, positive or negative, for everyone to see. Make sure you have some sort of reputation management plan in place if you want to rank on Google.
Mobile or Desktop Ranking – Which is Easier?
As increasing numbers of consumers use their tablets and smartphones to search for what they want and need on online, how businesses attract new customers continues to evolve via mobile search. Even so, the strategies businesses use for conventional desktop SEO won’t deliver the results in the same way for mobile search optimization. It’s actually easier to rank on mobile, because there are still a lot of sites that aren’t mobile friendly (responsive) yet or easy to use on mobile search. This won’t be the case much longer as companies finally realize the importance of serving potential clients that use their mobile phones fanatically for just about everything.
Winning with “Near Me” Searches
Google uses “near me” searches to deliver precise results located close to the searcher. Using the queries, the search engine offers the consumer the most relevant results using the location they are searching from. That this means is that “near me” should be a part of your local SEO plan.
This is an effective way that local businesses can target a very specific local centric audience based on their location, using navigation technologies like GPS on mobile phones. Because most local businesses are working with limited budgets, they need to cautiously establish their ad campaigns and learn how to strategically spend their advertising dollars. Hyperlocal advertising is a highly effective tool when it comes to getting your business in from of your relevant, local audience.
Use the “Google My Business” GMB Listing
Google My Business listings is a useful Google feature that can improve your businesses’ local ranking. Having an excellent GMB listing increases the chances of achieving first page placement above the organic search results. If you haven’t set it up already, create your profile, filling it out completely, adding photos, etc. Use your My business listing to tell consumers your story, making them want to find out more.
PPC Campaigns for Local Businesses
PPC campaigns can be worth the time and effort, but to get the best results you’ll want to enlist the help of a PPC expert. Because consumers frequently start their queries using local modified searches, you’ll want to use local terms in your campaign to better quality traffic, including the term “near me” mentioned above.
Winning the Local SEO Battle
It’s more important than ever to help your potential and current customers effortlessly find your business online through local SEO. Today’s mobile users searching for online businesses on the go expect to get the information they want fast. When they’re looking for your services or products, you need to be there with what they are looking for and at the right time. Paying attention to the Google changes listed here will help you get in front of these users. Keeping an eye on your reputation is just as important.
As a business owner, it’s crucial that you have an ongoing plan in place that will help you keep up with these Google changes. If you don’t have the time or the appropriate knowledge and expertise, consider hiring professional help.