Up until Google released the Pigeon algorithm, local SEO hadn’t really seen much of a change for the greater part of a decade, especially with search results pages. But now, since Thursday, August 6th, 2015, another major change has been done to Google search results pages worldwide.
When a local search is performed, the Top 3 local businesses are shown on the first page, as opposed to the Top 7 that was shown previous to the update.
The reason for this? Google has chosen to make their search engine mobile friendly, and three results are all that can be seen by mobile users when a local search is performed on a Smart phone. But that’s not the only significant change that has occurred, and this has many local business owners worried, especially those who don’t happen to be one of the “Top 3” listed businesses in their local areas.
Here are 5 more things that Google has altered since the change on August 6th:
- Business addresses have been reduced to the name of the street. This is actually a positive for local businesses that are not in the top 3 results, because searchers must click past the 3-pack to the full results page in order to find addresses. And only after clicking on the listing will the address and Google map appear.
- Local businesses are now searchable by their 5-star rating. Restaurant owners beware this new feature, because it is going to make those ratings more prevalent than ever. Not only can a searcher narrow their search by a company’s 5-star rating, they can also see the rating in the search results.
- Adding a review on a company Google page has become much more difficult. Once a company has received a Google review, it becomes easily available to the public, and adding reviews in the future become easier to post because a searcher must only click into the review section to add their own comment. However, until such time as a particular business receives their first Google review, it is nearly impossible to find this page. A user must actively seek the company’s Google+ page and head into the review section that way, but this is also affected by the next change.
- Google+ has been given a less prevalent role. Previous to the Pigeon update, a link to a company’s Google+ page was provided in the search results, and the map of local businesses were shown using Google+. Now, there is no provided link to the Google+ page and maps are shown through Google Maps instead. It seems, at least for now, Google+ has taken a back seat to other professional social media platforms like LinkedIn and Yelp reviews.
- Business websites that do not meet the standards of Panda and Pigeon are now virtually unsearchable. The combination of these two algorithms has eliminated much of the spam and poor content that used to litter the internet. Websites that are not a) Securely encrypted with good content and; b)mobile friendly, are now being dropped so low in the search ratings, that nobody will ever find them. It is important to meet these regulations if you want your local business to receive regular internet traffic!