Google has provided an exceptional free service for local businesses.

Searches for a local business type have previously returned results: known as the local pack, or Google Places.

The local pack was usually

  • 7 listings of local businesses with
  • a link to their websites,
  • a link to the Google+ page (Google+ Local),
  • any star ratings and
  • an address and phone number

Mousing over the Map Marker symbol brought up the map and additional details about the business.

These listings were GOLD for local businesses because they were free, detailed and relevant.
There was some SEO work to do, to ensure your business appeared and even more to do to get a reliable showing.

Good SEO within your website was the main guarantee of appearing.

Running AdWords, appearing in the Local Pack and appearing in the first page of search results was the “holy grail” of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP’s).
To appear 3 times on one page dramatically increased the likelihood of a searcher clicking through to your business. Conversion and sales awaited.
(All presuming you had a great product presented properly, on your site home page of course).

Here is an example:

Local 3 pack search results

How the Search Results in Google looked with the 7 local pack until 7 August 2015

As of this weekend, MUCH OF THAT IS GONE – WORLDWIDE

What is new with Local Business Listings in Google Results?

  • There are only 3 listings
  • More listings can be reached by clicking “More”
  • Phone numbers are gone
  • Google+ links have gone
  • Store hours show more prominently
  • The layout is changed with the map right in the search results
  • The “More” listing is extensive, but you have to click
  • Verified sites for Google+ get a superior amount of content
  • Unverified sites for Google + just get a map.
 

search results with the "snack pack" 3 pack in Australian SERPs

The NEW search results with the “snack pack” 3 pack as of 8 August in Australian SERPs

(Also Google have been stripping old G+ listings – Yellow Pages may have made you a basic map in Google – these orphaned pages are being cleaned out)

Google My Business (which is the backend of Google+ Local) is greatly changed. It now allows managers and owners to correct errors in a useful interface.

 

details-local_pack

How the results look on the “More” Page for a page VERIFIED on Google+.

unverfied-business-page-new-snack-pack

How a business which is NOT VERIFIED appears in the More Information page for local search

 So What Does this Mean for My Business?

A lot.

Unless someone is looking after your Google+ and your site SEO, you are much less likely to appear in the local pack. 60% less.
Unless you have a verified G+ listing you get a map but no business description, no reviews, no pictures, no logos.
There are, in some cases, a few more positions that appear on the first page in the Google search results (organic, unpaid for results)

More than ever, getting all the SEO settings right is crucial. As ever, much of this work needs to be done effectively, in your website.
The future of Google+ remains clouded.
But for now, optimising Google+ (Local) is more important than ever.
We predict big changes to Google+ in the next year or so. Rarely are these changes isolated. Google+ isn’t going away but it well may well become more and more focused on Local business.

What Does this Mean for SEOfast?

We are right onto it.
We already offer our customers quality advice and service on Google +.
We strongly recommend our clients give G+ plenty of emphasis.
Clients that take advantage of our Google + services are already reaping the rewards. You cannot afford to be left behind.

More positions on the 1st page of Google results, should be a call to action for you – and we are ready.

Is your business losing out due to this Google change? If so, it’s even more important to your online success that you have a successful SEO strategy, in order to be found by your potential customers.

SEO is not something to do once, it requires an effective, consistent and ongoing focus. If you get it right significant rewards are on offer. Ask an SEO specialist how to successfully grow your online business.

 

Grant T

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