Are Big Brands Being Forced Out of the Local Stack?

 

Google Local in a nutshell
Google Local in a nutshell

Updated July 25th, 2016

It has been over 2 months since Google reduced the Local results from 7 down to 3. Since the change, I’ve been attempting to analyze various items in the Pack – picture sizes, who is ranking, why they are ranking and what factors are keeping the businesses in the Local Stack. I’ve written several posts on how terrible the results are and what a poor experience the Local Stack has been so far. I think Google is doing some things to better the user experience but it still has a ways to go.

I have been noticing more and more small business, “mom and pop” shops, located in the Local Stack since the change and decided to test my theory that big Brands are being pushed out of the Local results.

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Local Stack Pack Pushes Organic Down the Page

 

Crystal Lake Dentist
Crystal Lake Dentist

I’ve been doing additional testing on the “new” Local Stack Pack and the Local Finder. Here are some additional observations from my testing:

  • Organic Listings are no longer listed above the Local Stack [tweetthis]Organic Listings are no longer listed above the Local Stack via @brianbarwig[/tweetthis]
  • GMB Primary Categories are now showing in the Stack and Local Finder [tweetthis]GMB Primary Categories are now showing in the Stack and Local Finder via @brianbarwig[/tweetthis]
  • Zooming in on the Local Finder causes a reduction in listings shown [tweetthis]Zooming in on the Local Finder causes a reduction in listings shown via @brianbarwig[/tweetthis]

Let’s go deeper.

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Local Finder now with Organic Listings

Think You Have Google Figured Out?
Think You Have Google Figured Out?

 

Local Finder with Organic Listings

I wanted to do some testing on the new Organic links showing in the Local Finder which just began rolling out the past few days. These listings are seemingly rolling out live for the whole country after some began seeing them this weekend and even more reported them today. Where is G pulling the information in the Local Finder Organic section? Below are screenshots of test results.

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Google goes to Local 3 Pack

 

New Local Pack
New Local Pack

 

As reported by Mike Blumenthal earlier this week, Google Local has shifted from the 7 Pack to a 3 pack. The shift was first reported as a possible test in various markets, is now rolled out to even more markets and should be nationwide soon.

The shift from a Local 7 Pack to a Local 3 Pack is a horrible user experience for several reasons. Instead of seeing 5 or 7 local results, there are now only 3. Those three local results:

  • Do not have a website
  • Do not have a phone number
  • Do not have a Google+ page visible
  • Take 3 clicks to find a meaningful result

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Why Google My Business is Critical for Local Success

Local SEO

What is Google My Business?

Google My Business launched to most businesses in June of 2014 and signified a major investment from Google in local business. Google, always looking toward future, appears to be solidifying local business as their foundation for the future. Many businesses were able to use Google My Business (GMB) immediately upon release, while other, larger, branded companies had to wait several months for the rollout.

Originally known as Google Places, Google My Business is designed to help local businesses seize control of their digital marketing presence. This powerful tool allows businesses to manage general business information, Google Reviews, Google Plus, Adwords and Analytics in one easy to use home. It also provides a way to manage the local digital landscape from Google Search, Google Maps and Google Plus on one dashboard.

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I Got us Pandalized. Then We Got Out. Here’s How.

What Happened

The Google Panda algorithm was first deployed in February of 2011 and effected up to 12% of search results, most notably for us – our website. The algorithm targeted low quality websites with thin content, high ad to content ratios and other quality signals such as content farms. We got smoked by this algorithm and continued to get dinged each time a new version of Panda was released to the wild.

panda1

I’ve read others say that once you get hit by Panda once, you somewhat flatten out and it doesn’t keep hurting you. My perspective on that is different. Our website continually got hit and each time it took a good portion of our traffic – anywhere from 5-20% of whatever the current level of traffic happened to be. Now, this was our own fault mind you. Some of it was because we were lackadaisical in changing our content from standard, un-unique, nearly duplicate content on nearly all of our city/state/zip code pages and some was because I was still pumping out guest blogs which were of the same, poor quality as our website content. I take full responsibility.

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Google Pigeon Theory

No Pigeon

I’ve had this theory for a little while now and I’m going to finally let it out of the box. Inspired by a great read on Andrew Shotland’s blog, he spits a few theories of his own. Andrew has been most vocal about how crappy the Pigeon algortithm has been and that G needs to clean it up. One of his theories on why the SERP’s are so bad is the “the combination of overweighting of Google’s brand algorithm and the narrowing of the radius for many local queries could have pushed some of these big brands out of the local packs”.

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