In July 2014, Google launched Pigeon, which aimed to optimise the rankings of local listings for searches. With the Google Pigeon algorithm, search results would yield 7 local business listings for your query. This month, Google replaced this algorithm with a new 3-listing “Snack Pack”. Undoubtedly, optimising search results for mobile users was an influential factor, with the top three local listings filling up the screens of smartphones neatly.
It may be true that the listings after the third in the Pigeon algorithm were getting far less traffic than the first three anyway, but it’s understandable that local businesses who have more than two competitors in the area will be concerned. It’s clear that local SEO matters now more than ever.
Make sure consumers can find you
Register with Google My Business so you can be found. Don’t just list your city or state; make sure you list your address so people can find you. Street addresses will be listed in the snack pack, as well as a link to your website, reviews and trading hours. If you’re searching on your phone, the snack pack will have a call button accompanying the listing. What you have to do is ensure that all the relevant details are provided so that consumers can find you quickly, and easily.
Be consistent with your website listings and My Google Business details. This means that if the address on your website uses the words “Street”, make sure your My Google Business address doesn’t use “St”. Your location data is particularly critical here.
This is something that is, of course, influenced by a range of factors such as the quality of your products and services. For businesses in the food industry, in particular, reviews are especially important because there is an option for users to prioritise listings with higher ratings. Regardless, ratings play a crucial part in local SEO, and it’s likely that Google will make the option to prioritise search results with higher ratings to businesses outside the food industry as well.
Despite the changes, falling outside of the top three listings shouldn’t be seen as a big threat. You should still be prioritising organic search with a good local SEO strategy that ensures your business comes up for relevant searches.
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