Another Dramatic Change to Local Search
Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) have changed over the years and continue change alongside Google’s new and updated algorithms. These changes have included small updates ranging from font changes and spacing, to adding in site links to organic listings, the addition (and later removal in parts) of the search carousel, and the slew of changes to the Google Local Map and its rankings. Not too long ago, Google made yet another dramatic change to Google’s local search algorithm and along with it came a new format for their local map pack. Today, we’re going to discuss the changes made to the local map pack and how these changes will affect organic traffic as we move forward.
Current Format of the Local Map Pack
As I’m sure all of you have seen, the current local map pack has reduced the number of local listings from seven to three while expanding the interactive map to be more prevalent. Below is an example of a local map pack for the search term “Dayton Ohio Florist”…
This new “snack pack” (as Google refers to it) will be the new layout format for the foreseeable future in regards to local listings. Some of the changes you may notice include a shortened address line that will only include the street address, clearly defined website link and direction links in order to streamline desktop and mobile results, and of course the reduced number of results. Despite the decrease in initial listings however, there are options for users to view more listings and additional businesses via an updated dashboard after clicking “more places” or the map itself.
How will this affect my organic and local search results?
Now that we’ve talked a little about the new layout, it’s time for the most important question; how will these changes affect my organic and local search results/visitors?
To start, this layout change has no effect on the ranking factors for your organic rankings. This means that if you are ranked 1st in organic listings before the change, with all things remaining constant, you will still rank 1st in the new layout. However, with the increased size of the local map, the amount of organic results that appear above the fold have been reduced and therefore will require users to scroll in order to see more of the organic listings.
“What about my local map rankings? Could I see changes there?” The short answer is yes! Many tests have been conducted in the past few months by industry leaders to see if any ranking changes are being caused by this new map pack. The results showed that users may see different results depending on their physical location within the area. Google has stated that the overwhelming majority of users click to see the full list of local businesses (20 in total, with 6 being above the fold) and where they’re located, but, in order to stay in those top rankings you need to continue implementing Google’s best practices for local rank optimization on your website! It should be evident that your local rankings are even more important now that there are fewer listings, and they may vary depending on search, than before. Think SEO is a dead practice? Think again!
On the plus side, this new map layout offers new opportunities for local rank increases for surrounding cities and for organizations that have more than one brick and mortar location! Keep implementing proper local optimization across your website and these new changes can open up a new world of customers!