Google has revealed a new update to its local search that is liable to affect local businesses of all industries. To summarize, the inclusion of superlatives e.g. ‘best’ when searching for local businesses now impacts local pack results, making it a more user review/rating orientated search results system.
What does this mean for local businesses as a whole?
From the initial indications, Google’s update will make it more difficult for businesses to appear in the local pack. It was already challenging for businesses ranking in fourth position or lower when Google altered the local pack from seven to three, subsequently pushing SEO to the forefront of marketing strategies in order to be visible in the coveted top three.
Google has now made this even harder. By including superlatives such as ‘best’, ‘outstanding’, and ‘great’ in search results, the filter now relies at least partially on customer reviews in order to provide the most relevant/helpful results. This means that not only are the local pack positions limited to the lucky few; businesses will now have to rely on customer reviews in order to rank highly in results.
How much do positive reviews matter?
More than ever before, reviews do matter. A lot. This is both on a level of customer/business interaction – reviews could be the deciding factor between taking business to your company over another – and with the local pack in mind.
However, there is still some clarification needed from Google. Take an ad, for example – if this has the word ‘best’ in, does this override organic SEO results/customer reviews? There are also inconsistencies to iron out; for example, if a search with a lower ranking appears second in the local pack, due to location, page views, or another factor, are reviews still as necessary?
Ultimately, with Google’s local search update in mind, the best your local business can do is maximize its SEO efforts in all areas. Along with positive reviews, this is your best shot at getting a place of prominence in the local pack. Local Clarity can help you do this. Contact us today to find out more.