During the afternoon of August 6th Google made a huge change to the way they display local business listings within their search results. Before today, if you were to search for a local business or service you would see the top 2-3 advertisements, below those ads were the Google maps results of local businesses (usually showing 7 local business listings), then below the maps were what we call ‘organic’ listings, those websites who rank well within Google.
Here is a screenshot we took just a few days ago:
You will notice in the screenshot above, the top 3 ‘Ad’ listings where appliance repair companies in Portland are paying to be listed, just below the ads you will see local appliance repair companies listed A through G, then below the maps are the ‘organic’ listings.
So What Has Changed?
Today, August 7th Google now only shows 3 businesses within their maps listings, this is across the board for all search terms. Just below the 3 business listings is a ‘more’ link that will show the rest of the local businesses.
Here is a screenshot of the same search “Portland appliance repair” taken today August 7th:
This means any business listed number 4-7 are now no longer on the first page of Google. This will probably cause a drop in business activity for those listed below the number 3 result.
The other aspect we have to look at are the ‘organic’ listings. The websites that are not paying for ads, as well as those website that are not in the ‘maps’ section may receive more visibility, but this won’t be confirmed for a few months or until enough data has been collected. I suspect that searchers will want more options when looking for an appliance repair tech, so 3 listings probably won’t help the searcher. They will either click the ‘more’ link or continue down the first page, possibly increasing the views of the organic listings.
So you might be asking, “Why is Google making this change?” The answer is simple.. its all about the money. One of the biggest benefits for local businesses is Google’s map search. A business could be listed on Google’s map (for free by the way) and receive a ton of new customers.
This new way of listing businesses could force many local business owners to pay to be listed within the ‘Ad’ section. Think of it this way, if your business was listed in the 4-7 spot of Google’s map you were probably receiving new customers. Now that you are no longer on the first page of Google, your call volume will probably drop. You either evolve with Google (work to get your listing above the 4th spot or run a pay-per-click campaign) or you do nothing and struggle to get business.
Another important point we need to look at is that when someone clicks one of the map listings (if they don’t click on the small ‘Website’ link or the ‘Directions’ link, they are taken to a page that will show the rest of the local businesses on the right side.
Here is an example of the same search for “Portland appliance repair“, after clicking on one of the listings:
If you were to click the ‘More appliance repair‘ link you would be taken to the same page but without a pop-out of a business:
What Does This Mean For You?
If your business listing isn’t in the top 3, you will probably see a decrease in business, unless if you rank well organically. Not everyone calls the business listings in the maps, which is the same reason why not everyone will click on an advertisement and call that business. Personally when I was looking for an appliance repair technician I looked at the businesses with the best reviews. So if I lived in Portland, I would probably click the ‘More’ link to get more options.
Before the update on August 6th, on average 41% of clicks went to the ‘ads’, the rest of the clicks were to the maps listings and then the top of the organic results.
What Can You Do To Increase Business?
The best way to increase business is by paying for ads. Google’s Pay Per Click program will allow you to show up above the maps listings and at the very top of Google for your specific keywords.
Google is a constantly changing search engine, and since they control over 70% of the search volume, you have to play by their rules and changes. Advertising on Google is what they want you to do because that is how they make money. If they make a change, you have to either evolve with that change or fight to stay in business.
Look at advertising on Google as an investment into your business. Start off slow by adding just a few pay-per-click ads. These ads can be controlled to show up in specific locations for specific keyword terms. You have full control over these ads. If it cost you $5.50 to make 1 appointment that nets you $120, then $5.50 looks pretty small. Even if it cost $10 to make $120, running a pay-per-click campaign may be worthwhile.
What Changes Are We Making?
As of right now, we aren’t making any changes with how we build and rank websites. So far none of the technical stuff has changed. Google still wants you to have a well optimized appliance repair website, they still want your website to be mobile friendly, they want you to have your contact information easily found, they want you to have quality content on your website, Google’s quality guidelines are all still the same.
Our job at Appliance Repair Partners is to keep on top of the constant changes within Google and to help our customers evolve with that change.
Is it still beneficial to rank within maps? Yes it is! With this change we believe the market will become more competitive because there are less spots to claim within the top of Google’s map listings. We believe that a pay-per-click campaign can compliment our other marketing efforts. Google wants your business to succeed, because without a successful businesses advertising on their platform their profits would decline.
If you have any questions please send us a message here.