Google has always held advertising business and a search engine as the major part of the company for the past years. As a search engine, many people can attest that Google changes the search engine display results frequently. In the past years, this has affected search engine results for many business owners. Local results have now experienced a Google Local Shakeup: 3-Pack Only, 7-Pack Removed; Addresses & Phone Numbers Gone. These changes are likely to affect local business listings.
Many people refer to Google Local search results simply as Google maps results. Local search results have always been more inclined to Google maps. The local results however had a new change. There is currently a 3 pack of results in searches made through the desktop.
For comparison, here is how it used to look as a 7-pack, for the same local search.
You can see the full address, the Google+ page and the reviews.
And here is the identical search now:
The big change happening within the local space for Google local business listing is that of switching from the 7-pack to the 3-pack results. The reduced number of listings has had the 3 pack named a snack pack local results. This means that instead of showing the initial 7 business within the pack and the map, these spots are now only available to only 3 businesses.
The change in business packs was an unusual move for Google. The change was rolled out without any much news from Google. Business owners that were not featured on the 3 packs were the first to notice that the usual 7 packs had now dropped to 3. This unusual move started changes in the US and is being carried out internationally.
The change in the local pack was the major change that affected many local business listings. However, this was not the only change undertaken by google. Google notably removed the call button from the desktop, removed exact addresses and changed the rating features. Even though there is a drastic reduction in the local search listings, searchers can always expand the box to view more listings. Expanding the box enables one to view more local listings, of up to 20 in a page.
Specific addresses removed
Google also removed exact addresses from its 3 pack listings. Instead, it only shows the street names. This change will highly affect searchers, they will have to click through to the map listings in order to get the exact address. The exact location will also be received from the company’s website.
Phone numbers removed
The new changes show that searchers will no longer have an access to phone numbers when searching for businesses. They now have to click through the website or listings to get the number. The mobile version has also been noted that it does not display the phone number, it however has a �call’ option for each listing. The removal of the call button from the desktop results seems to make sense, phone calls are easily made via smartphones.
The new 3 packs that show up in the search results are highly determined by the ratings. The rating features within this pack allows searchers to only view results that have a certain star and above. The local 3-pack results therefore gives one enough data to sort different companies keenly. While the 7 pack listing was overwhelming with information, the 3 pack gives one ample space to get enough information of few companies.
The ratings feature is however not much visible. However, if it becomes frequently used or if Google decides to make it visible to searchers, it is going to be very important for businesses. Business will have to ensure that they have a rating of 4 or higher so that they can fully take advantage of this feature. No one is certainly going to select a 2 or 3 star option, unless the area does not have a 4 star business rating.
Store operating hours added
There was an addition to the operating hours of various businesses. This includes the opening and closing times, this largely depends on the time of day when conducting the search. Knowing the operating will assist searchers to get to business premises before the closing times. The store hours are now only displayed if the website contains a good markup.
Among the major the major changes, other minor changes include the removal of Google+ links. Google plus has been widely used and gained a huge popularity. This is because Google has pushed for businesses to claim their page officially. The removal of these links is quite interesting.
No �Google Reviews’ label
Initially, there was a �Google Reviews’ label when referring to reviews of a company. The Google label on the reviews has been removed, they are now simply called �reviews.’ The number of reviews for each business is still included.
What these changes mean for business owners
Ranking within local search results and in Google Maps has grown to be very important. Companies that do not rank within the local sphere will find it running their business. The local changes by Google are most likely going to affect business that do not make up to the top 3 negatively. A company that initially showed up in the top 7 and doesn’t show up currently will now have fewer sales and leads. Companies that show in the 3 pack will be left with less competition, have more sales and more leads.
The changes are largely meant to have a better look in smartphones and to deliver a more relevant information. This will therefore prompt businesses to invest more in Search Engine Marketing and in SEO. Companies that have higher rankings are more likely to be featured in the top 3 listings. If your business initially ranked top in the local searches but is not currently featured, you may have to enlist the services of Search Engine Optimization experts. SEO experts have the right knowledge to improve rankings organically through content and SEO.
It is still largely unclear if Google plans to expand the changes to other areas. If people use them, it could be rolled out to other locations and areas. Local results now a bigger competition, especially to maintain the three spots. The changes in the local listings are expected to be rolled out worldwide, it initially started in Europe, US, Australia, Canada and South Africa.
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