Google recently lowered its review threshold to a minimum of one-to-three reviews in order for brands to appear within the Local 3-Pack. Previously, local businesses were expected to have a minimum of five reviews in order to appear within the Local Pack, but evidence from Mike Blumenthal and Barry Schwartz suggests as little as one review will now be enough for brands to rank in the Local Pack. This can be both a good or bad thing for different store locations, depending on the quality of the reviews they currently have.
Almost a year ago, Google launched its much-anticipated Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in order to create a better, quicker experience for mobile users. Over the past several months, publishers have provided mixed reviews on AMP performance. Google is still working out the kinks in features that will provide the best results to both users and publishers, but it can be assumed that Accelerated Mobile Pages and their mobile-first objective are here to stay, and do impact ranking factors.
As a whole, 2016 was a year full of changes to Google’s ranking algorithm and its local search results. From quarterly Google My Business updates, to mobile-first indexing, Google has been strengthening its algorithm to provide the best possible user experience. Moving into 2017, brands can benefit from reviewing some of the biggest changes in Google’s approach over the past year to gauge what is to come in 2017.
At the beginning of this week, Jennifer Slegg pointed out that Google seems to be testing a new card-style layout for search results. This new format pushes down the local 3-pack under four different AdWords ads and features a reel of the top three news stories before displaying the local 3-pack results and then organic listings. Google has always experimented with the SERPs, but throughout the past year, local has been an increasing focus for the search engine giant, and there are sure to be plenty more changes coming in 2017. Here are some ways we see Google SERPs changing in 2017, and a few tips on how to prepare.
On November 4th, Google announced that it will be introducing mobile-first indexing in place of desktop-first indexing. This will greatly enhance the mobile user experience, as mobile users expect real-time information on-demand, and Google is rising to meet the hype. This switch in indexing means that even desktop pages will be crawled using a mobile-first lens, signaling that brands without a dynamic or mobile-friendly design could be in trouble.
Google’s recent algorithm update, referred to as “Possum” by local SEO experts, has had many marketers wondering why they suddenly lost their local search rankings. However, as Joy Hawkins reported, it is unlikely that brands have been penalized in the local search results, but rather, the new algorithm update has caused a major shift that is forcing some brands out of the local 3-pack for keywords for which they were previously ranking.
Recently, Google has made quite a few changes to local review guidelines. Last month, Google exposure with reviews to other customers. With nearly 90% of consumers stating that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation, user-generated content has never been more important. Recently, Google launched Critic Reviews, which allow any publisher to apply to have their “critic reviews” displayed for a local business. Following critic reviews, Google made some updates to the guidelines for using schema markup reviews, advising that only reviews produced directly from a brand’s own site can utilize review markup. Now, Google has introduced Reviews from the Web, which pulls consumer reviews from third-party sites to the knowledge panel on a desktop and presented directly under NAP information on a smartphone.
With the rapid growth of information made available online it’s crucial that all areas of your brand’s digital efforts are covered. Today’s techsavvy consumers are seeking and expect a seamless experience online, regardless of the device. Luckily, for brands that have taken the time to claim and cleanse location data on Google this type of experience is now obtainable thanks in part to the recent Google Maps update. Alternatively, brands that have not claimed locations on Google will be negatively impacted. Which brand are you?
At Where2GetIt we were intrigued when Apple announced Apple Pay in September of this year. Combining mobile and the ability to transition in-store payments with just the wave of a smartphone? It sounded right up our alley, especially since we are always on the lookout for how technology is improving local search, multilocation businesses, and all things digital.
Facebook is stepping up their search game: This week Facebook updated their search capabilities with Graph Search, now allowing users to search their own and others’ post history without having to scroll, scroll, scroll through the news feed or someone’s Facebook page.