Robert Forbes, Product Analyst
Last month, Google completed its roll out of the new local search results in a simultaneous, world-wide release. Previously, Google displayed anywhere from 3-7 local business listings shown on the map, depending on the keywords searched. The current view shown below, now only shows the top three results. Moreover, Google no longer displays phone numbers in the initial results.
There are three distinct changes that have arisen from this rollout. First, the lack of phone numbers will require additional clicks through to their Local Finder. Searching for a single brand will still bring up the Knowledge Finder, but a search for a brand showing multiple locations will result in this new snack pack of 3 listings, being shown with no phone numbers included. This evidently will lead to fewer phone calls and less traffic, potentially resulting in decreased sales for those businesses that appear in fourth position or lower of a search. We would anticipate those businesses listed amongst the first three results seeing an increase in activity.
Secondly, with the seven listings now being reduced to a mere three, organic search and Google AdWords both gain extreme importance in relation to a search, as all businesses now want to be one of the three locations listed. Mike Blumenthal points out that businesses that are now featured lower in results may need to double down on their AdWords activity as this will take on increased importance moving forward.
Thirdly, Google has also adhered to its promise to devalue Google+ pages. Google has for a while been removing non-verified Google+ pages. Only if a business has been verified, will it now have a Google+ page. If it is not verified, its only presence will be through the Google Knowledge Graph or via the main Search Engine Page Results. Why is this important? Google has removed links to Google+ pages formerly supplied alongside the search results. The emphasis is strictly based upon address, reviews, pricing (when applicable) and hours of operation. Photos are still shown, but are not indicative of relevancy, at least not at the moment.
The importance of maintaining accurate organic business data continues prove itself imperative for a business to be found as does the increasing dependence on a cohesive approach within Google.