15 Dec 2010

Google SERP Changes

Learning Center No Comments

Just when you thought you had a handle on your local online marketing efforts, along comes Google and changes the game. Right now, rolling out across the world, is Google’s new local search results format. And although the principles of a good online local marketing campaign haven’t changed, the new search results and ranking system may change the way you focus your efforts.

Old vs. New

The old search results didn’t feature much in the way of business information because most of the search results page was taken up by the map. What you got before was the business name, phone number, website (if available), and the total number of reviews found on the Google place page for that business. In fact, you didn’t even need to have a website to be ranked.

The new search results offer much more and seem to be more comprehensive, giving viewers access to more information right off the bat. According to what type of business you have and where you are located, Google may attach any number of items to your search result:

  • A picture (found on the Google place page)
  • The business website address
  • A sample of text from the business website
  • Full address and phone number
  • Average number of stars given on the Google place page
  • The total number of reviews on the Google place page
  • A review snippet from a popular review website, like Yelp, CitySearch, Tripadvisor, Zagat, and more
  • The number of reviews given on popular review sites

 

What This Means for Your Business

In the previous ranking system, all you had to do was get some good Google place page reviews and you could rise to the top of the local search results. Now it seems that Google is taking a more integrated approach to local search so they can reward business that have a multi-faceted marketing strategy and are well reviewed across multiple sites. What this means is that you need to widen your view of what brings you to the top of the Google local search results and focus on three key areas: Your website SEO, your Google place page content, and your reviews on multiple review sites.

Reexamine Your Website

Google—it seems—is now taking into account your website when it comes to ranking your business. If you previously paid little attention to your website because you were concentrating on building your Google place page (or didn’t have a website at all), you may find yourself dropping lower in the rankings or completely disappearing. Now is the time to build a website if you don’t already have one or dust off your current website, reevaluate it, and make a few changes. Look for ways to optimize your site for search engines with keywords, site content, page descriptions, title tags, a blog, and more. Increase your page rank and your local search rank will rise as well.

Spruce Up Your Google Place Page

Now that Google pulls information from your place page and displays it in the search results, you want to make sure all your information is up to date and that you have a compelling picture of your business on the place page. Also, depending on the type of business you have, the search results may show the average number of stars your business has received on its Google place page reviews (not just the number of reviews). So now you’ll need to work harder at getting your loyal customers to write stellar Google reviews of your business.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews

If you have only been relying on Google place page reviews up till now, you need to widen your vision. Depending on the type of business you have, the new local search results may display the number of reviews you have on popular review sites across the internet, giving a snippet of a review from one of those sites. This is more common with food-based businesses or anything in the service industry. The more reviews (and the more positive reviews) you have across the internet the better you will fare in the overall local search results.

A More Comprehensive Search

Overall it seems that Google is trying to give users a better, more comprehensive, ranking for local searches. The results are based not only on a positive Google reviews, but on the time and effort businesses have put into optimizing their website as well as their degree of customer service, as measured in multiple reviews across the internet.

Since Google has enlarged their ranking strategy, you need to enlarge your marketing strategy. Start today by concentrating on website SEO, your Google place page, and reviews across multiple websites.

If you’re concerned about the way that the new Google local search results will affect your business, give us a call today to talk about ways to optimize your website and business for a better search ranking.

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