Hold onto your hats, local SEO enthusiasts, because Google is shaking things up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) for local businesses. Recent reports, backed by screenshots, reveal a series of experiments hinting at potential changes in how local businesses are displayed and reviewed.
Experiment 1: GMB Spotlight and No Products?
The first experiment places a local company’s Google Business Profile (GMB) front and centre, complete with extended information, alongside a list of relevant websites. Notably, the “Products” section, typically present for businesses with online stores, is absent in this case. This suggests Google might be testing different ways to highlight GMB listings in SERPs, potentially giving local businesses more visibility.
Experiment 2: Map-Centric with Missing Local Pack Elements
The second experiment ditches the traditional three-pack of local businesses in favour of a prominent map at the top and a long list of related websites and directions. This streamlined approach focuses on geographical information, seemingly downplaying individual business listings.
Experiment 3: Service Area checklist as a part of user interface
The third experiment combines a map with a short list of related businesses, a GBP for a relevant store, and ads. Interestingly, this variation also includes a service area checklist within the UI, offering users a more comprehensive picture of the business’s reach.
Experiment 4: Global Review Expansion
The final experiment opens up the review pool. Google is now displaying reviews from users outside the searcher’s location, as evidenced by screenshots showing reviews from individuals in Italy for a local business. This broader range of perspectives could offer a more comprehensive picture of a business’s reputation.
What Does This Mean for Local Businesses?
These experiments showcase Google’s ongoing efforts to refine the local search experience. While the final implementation of these changes is uncertain, local businesses should stay informed and adapt their strategies accordingly. Here are some key takeaways:
- Optimise your GMB profile: Ensure your GMB is complete and up-to-date, including high-quality photos, accurate information, and engaging descriptions.
- Focus on local SEO: Continue to build backlinks and optimise your website for local keywords to remain visible in search results.
- Monitor reviews: Encourage customers to leave reviews, and actively respond to both positive and negative feedback.
- Stay informed: Keep up with the latest developments in local search to adapt your strategy as needed.