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Google Updates Local Search Results Page

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What Has Changed

Last week, Google made a local search update to change the appearance of the “map pack” in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This update is being called the “Local Stack.” Prior to this update, the Google Knowledge Graph displayed in the upper right hand corner of the SERP and included photos, reviews, star ratings, and contact information for specific locations.

This update will affect certain businesses in the following ways:

  • The Knowledge Graph will no longer showcase the business for specific search queries.
  • The business will be showcased in the Local Stack and Local Finder.

Additionally, Google+ pages will no longer display directly in the SERP as they once did. They will now populate in the Local Stack results as demonstrated in the “after” image shown below.

SERP Before

SERP After

Which Google+ Pages Will Be Impacted

The Google My Business Dashboard (which also powers your Google+ page) is still powering the data behind the Local Pack. From our analysis, we’ve been able to determine that results will differ based on the searcher’s query. Businesses with a similar name and with multiple locations within the same city or region will be impacted accordingly:

  • They are likely to show up in the new Local Pack results format if you use the same branded name for multiple locations in the same city.
  • Generic queries like “Portland Oregon Self Storage” will also generate the new results format as shown below.

 

 

 

Is the Knowledge Graph Dead?

No. The Knowledge Graph will still appear when the searcher uses specific queries that include brand name and full address or if you have one property in a city and that property has its own unique name.

Pictured below is the branded name search experience when a location has a unique branded name for the area.

 

This image demonstrates the branded name search experience when there are multiple locations in the same city or area with the same brand name.

 

Branded Name Same City

This change in brand experience helps direct users to a greater number of your locations that are in the same city or area. As a result, users in suburban areas will be able to find locations closer to their immediate surroundings even when the search query is based on the nearest major city.

The brand experience has not changed for locations with branded names that are unique to the city or surrounding area.

We’ll discuss more on this brand experience change and how it impacts user experience in our second article on this topic.

User Experience

Before the Local Pack update, when a searcher clicked on a brand name associated with a listing in the Map Pack it drove them to the business’ website. Now, a desktop searcher has the option to click on the business name (which is powered by Google My Business), the business website, or get directions (or click to call, if on mobile). The Local Stack now drives users to a different experience where they see the phone number, star rating, hours, photos, reviews, website, and related businesses. You can view an example of this experience here.

Why Managing Google My Business is Now More Important than Ever

While the role of Google+ is changing, Google My Business is still a vital component to your digital marketing strategy. Ensuring that your Google My Business pages are verified, set up properly, and contain the information that is available in the Local Pack is necessary for your business to be found by searchers or prospects.

At a bare minimum, this includes:

  • Accurate business name
  • Phone number
  • Full address
  • Hours
  • Link to property website

The above is a good place to start, but that isn’t enough to maintain a stellar search presence after this update. Once a user clicks through on one of the listings in the Local Pack, a user will be exposed to more information that is populated by your Google My Business Dashboard that needs to be accurate, relevant, and available.

These items include:

  • Accurate business name
  • Star rating
  • Reviews
  • Full address
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Hours of operation
  • Business categories
  • Photos of your business

Takeaways

Your Google My Business dashboard is the key to surviving and thriving in the post Map Pack world. Ensure that your Google My Business Listing is fully updated, verified, and managed on an ongoing basis. Google My Business will continue to power a favorable online presence and be a critical touchpoint in the research process for your future customers.

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