Local Results Pack Shows Up More Often
In August, Google updated the way it shows local listings on its search engine results pages. Now, those local 3-packs are showing up for local searches 93 percent of the time.
That’s according to a study by seoClarity, which compared results for more than 50,000 keyword phrases before and after the change. Previously, the local pack showed up on top only 25 percent of the time, according to the findings.
The change is likely related to the Panda 4.2 algorithm refresh, but Google has kept its cards close to its vest in that regard. Either way, the new local packs means it’s more important than ever to have great sites at the local and niche level.
We think the changes from Google are a way to make tracking easier on its end. For example, with the phone numbers gone customers can’t just view them and call from a separate phone anymore. This is even true for mobile phones – you can click to call from the results page, but the actual digits are hidden. Now Google will know about every call. The same goes for addresses. Plus, keeping users clicking through listings just gives Google more opportunities to show ads.
It’s not all bad news – the better tracking Google can do, the more accurate your own results tracking. If you haven’t yet, check out your new customer dashboard with Online Image®, which accounts for the local pack update and shows all of the most important data in one easy place.
Another way your business may benefit is that having call buttons instead of digits may make it easier to call a business in the first place, even if the digits aren’t displayed.
We can speculate, but that doesn’t mean we expect changes anytime soon. In the new landscape, getting clicks requires some extra effort. Big franchise corporations, for example, should have local franchise sites that are full of unique content, and should emphasize the names of the city and state plus relevant keyword phrases and topics. It’s also vital to make sure your Google My Business data is correct.
For Internet-only businesses, ranking is going to be even harder. Make sure you have pages on your domain specifically about your top products, and carefully plan your push campaigns and ad spending to boost brand awareness.
Don’t Forget About Ranking Organically
However, not all searchers will click on the local pack, even if they have to scroll down. This study shows almost 40 percent of people are still choosing organic results compared to about 20 percent who click on local results. That means you still need to optimize your page titles, meta descriptions and H-tags to make regular organic listings more enticing.