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By now, businesses are accustomed to Google releasing updates that affect their SEO rankings. They’re typically subtle and cause shifts in organic placement over time. The most recent Google Local change was quite different, though. It rolled out all across the world in one day, immediately changing how local results are shown. Since 50% of searches using mobile and 34% of searches on a desktop computer are looking for local businesses they are ready to purchase from, no longer showing up for these results can cause a big shake up. Let me break down the significant changes for you:
Fewer Results Show Up
This is the biggest change to the system. Immediately, experts noticed the usual seven-pack of results had dropped down to only three. The move to three-packs rolled out throughout the day, and these are now referred to as Snack Pack local results. And in an unusual move for local, Google launched this change both in the US and internationally at once. Searchers who want more than three options are now forced to click a “More” button.
No More “Google Reviews”
Gone are the labels on the reviews listing them as “Google Reviews”, but they aren’t completely removed. Now they are just called “Reviews” with the number of reviews for each business still included, but not easily linked to the SERP like before.
Map Icons No Longer Show Letters
When viewing the Google Map on either desktop or mobile, the map now displays a red dot with a white square instead of the pinpoint with correlating letters to the listings. If viewing the map in a zoomed out view, you must hover over the red dot to see which listed is located in that spot.
Exact Addresses Removed
Google has removed specific addresses from the Snack Pack listings, instead only showing the street name. This requires a searcher to either click through to the website or the map listing to get the exact address. For those using a mobile to find a business while en route, this adds one more step to putting the address into the GPS.
Phone Numbers Removed
In another effort to streamline the results, searchers will no longer have easy access to the phone number of the business. They now need to click through the listing or get the number from the website. The mobile version doesn’t display the phone number but does have a “Call” option for each listing, so it isn’t too convenient if you’re planning to make the call right then.
Store Hours Added
Instead of the exact address and phone number, listing now show the business’s store hours. They have added these store hours, including opening and closing times, depending on the time and day of the search. For example, a business closed on Sundays will immediately tell a searcher looking on a Sunday. If you haven’t verified or updated your store’s hours on your My Business account with Google, do so right away to avoid organic listings being incorrect.
Google+ Links Removed
Perhaps yet another clue to Google+’s demise, the Google+ links have been removed from the Snack Pack as well. Because Google has pushed for local businesses to claim their page officially, this change is pretty interesting.
Access to Card Information Has Changed
The “Card” is what displays the exact location, hours of operations, reviews, website, URL and more. Traditionally, searchers were able to simply scroll over local listings to see the Card for the business displayed on the right-hand side. This no longer happens. To see the Card and all the local information, you have to click through to the secondary local page.
Clicks Lead to the Secondary Local Page
When a user clicks through to a listing on any place other than the “Website” link, searchers will see the secondary local page. This displays 20 local listings, their Cards, and the map. This page looks similar to the individual Cards from before, but cleaner.
An update this extensive and sudden is uncharacteristic for Google. As a business owner, it’s understandable nerve wracking. With so many companies previously featured in the seven results that are now completely removed with the Snack Pack, your industry is going to see a lot more competition for those three spots, and the potential for more spam or negative SEO attempts as a way to compensate for this. Don’t give in to this temptation; let Impulse Creative help you! The inbound methodology is still the best way to compete organically, and we can help you stay in the top spots without breaking the rules. Download our free eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Inbound Marketing to find out how to get started.