It’s been a bit since I last posted – nearly 3 months in fact. Been wicked busy and my brain has been focused on learning the ins and outs of my new gig. This post won’t be anything ground breaking but should be fun.
I figured I should write a 2015 wrap up post since there was a good amount happening last year, not only in Local SEO, but to me as well. Let’s just jump right in with some of the bigger happenings.
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 writtenseveralposts 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.
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:
UPDATE: I spoke with another Google rep today about a separate issue but asked about Disabled/Pending listings. She told me the same thing the previous rep told me but went into more detail. She stated that this is a new tactic Google is using in order to combat the rampant spammers who attempt to take control of G+ listings or make fake listings.
What the Google team does is make sure the business website, Google Plus page and any Search items are exactly the same for each listing. If the website has a phone number ending in 5432 but the G+ page has a number ending in 5431, the listing is marked as spam and goes under a manual review. Once the spam team reviews the listing, it can be reinstated if the information is corrected.
This is welcomed news and shows how serious Google is about getting information 100% correct all the time. Again this is a brand new tactic and seems to be working well, although it is a pain for those of us in the bulk feeds. At least we will know if our information needs to be corrected and why. Just make sure your business information matches exactly everywhere it is listed!
Original Post: Those of us who frequently spend time in the Google My Business Dashboard know of its issues all too well. While the support Google provides for GMB is much appreciated, it leaves something to be desired. Phone support is shoddy at best and there are continuous issues with listings which confuse us all.
UPDATE: Since I posted this morning, Professor Maps got an update from Google with a copy of the warning email they send and SEL did a nice write up about the issue as well.
For those of you who work in Google My Business accounts often, this may be news. I was working in a GMB Bulk Feed account yesterday and noticed several of the thousands of listings in the account had a notice of “Disconnected“. The notice said, “This location can’t be connected to Google right now. If this problem continues for more than two days, try deleting the location and adding it again or contact support.”
For businesses who want to rank in the Local landscape, there are many different aspects small business owners need to understand in order to be found online. There is an overwhelming amount of information to digest, no shortage of SEO experts to tell you what you need to be doing and minimal amount of time to do any of it.
Small business owners in particular should have a strong, responsive website, with unique, neighborhood relevant content, a social media presence and an ongoing digital strategy. This can be a tall task for any business owner, let alone those who do not fully understand Local SEO.
Every small business owner has done this at least once since their business has been open. They go to Google, type in their information and scan the Page 1 SERP. It’s natural. Business owners want to know how they show up in Google. What’s also natural is having the business website show up first (hopefully). What shows up next though? Facebook? Yelp? Something else? Whatever the results are, hopefully it is their own 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.