If you keep yourself in the loop as to all matters SEO you will probably know about Google’s Pigeon update. This algorithm update has had quite an effect on the rankings of local businesses across the US… not always for the better.
The consensus seems to be that:
- An internal reshuffle within - but also reduction in - the Local Pack (often from 7 to 3)
- A shift in the signals used to rank local businesses with more of a focus on brand, similar to organic rankings. With also directories coming out as winners.
- A more narrow radius as to the searcher, with Google also becoming more clever in order to ascertain where someone is. Google is also able to detect if the searcher is static or moving and the speed at which he is moving. A search on a mobile phone as you are walking along a high street will trigger different results when compared to a search sat at your desk using a desktop PC. But even in the latter case it seems that the radius was still reduced.
From my understanding Google is now returning - after a Pigeon update - Hyper Local, Hyper Branded results.
As a business owner it is rather difficult to physically move your business just to make sure that you are in the city centroid, or that you are located near where most local searches occur.
So, you should probably make sure that you pull out all the stops as to your good old fashioned marketing and PR efforts in order to:
Not completely depend on Google.
Obtain links from local press and reference sources with a combination of brand name, URL and keywords. Try to also obtain a link from a local .ac domain.
All of the above while still making sure to implement pre-Pigeon Local SEO Best Practice (but that is for another Blog post). In order to mitigate any potential negative effects, I would also recommended to make sure your directory citations are all in order and consistent.
If you are the owner of a UK-based small or medium sized business, and you are enjoying organic traffic from the Local Pack within Google’s SERPs it might be a very wise move to try and have a glimpse into the future… And we don’t need a DeLorean for that, we just need the New Google Maps. The latest version of Google Maps is seemingly running in Data Centres that are using the updated Google algorithm.
There obviously is a difference since one and the same search within Google Maps (at the same location) returns different results in the New Maps compared to the Old Maps.
While being based in Burnley, when I do a simple search for “bathrooms” I get the following results in the New Google Maps:
However when performing this same search within the OLD Google Maps (by clicking on the little interrogation mark icon at the right-hand bottom section of the page), I get very different results. Also notice the strong similarities with the actual Local Pack when performing a regular Google Search.
Knowing that there is a very strong correlation between Google Maps results (List View) and Local Pack results, we now have a tool that allows us to see into the future!
Can I guarantee that what I am saying is 100% correct? Nope... we are talking about Google after all.
But, all things considered I would at least reflect upon it and already take preventative action where possible.