When Google makes a local search algorithm update, people in my industry sit up and take notice. And you should too! Search Engine Land named this latest revision the Google Pigeon Update.
According to a flurry of articles in both Search Engine Land and Mike Blumenthal’s Understanding Google Places and Local Search, this update doesn’t do most local businesses any favors.
The number of “map listings” in many cases has dropped from the “7 Pack” listings down to “3 Pack” listings – in layman’s terms that means that the number of map listings on the Google search results pages has gone down – impacting website traffic for local businesses.
One thing that is constant is that Google is always changing. Just in the past few years – they have modified their management of business listings and the interface multiple times – no wonder most businesses can’t keep up.
Local Search Results – The Yelp Problem
Many of my local SEO clients are noticing a trend – when you do searches on their related local keywords – you get some interesting results.
Yelp listings are often near or at the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page). How often do you and your friends actually use Yelp? It’s a well-used site by Generation X and Millennials but maybe not used quite as much as you would think from the Google search results.
In this article Mike Blumenthal points out Yelp’s ability to manipulate the search results and the poor user experience that it provides.
Recently, Mike and I (well mostly Mike) had a lively Twitter exchange with a representative from Yelp – where we called out Yelp for letting a large brand violate their terms of service. The large brand (unnamed here) was specifically asking for Yelp reviews on their site (which is a violation of Yelp’s terms of service).
Amazingly (please read sarcasm here) you can pay Yelp to upgrade your listing – and in that case their organic search results for local terms will benefit you. But at a price. What I see are some strange relationships between organic search and paid search – and it makes me very unhappy for the local businesses who are honestly trying to get more exposure on the search engines.
Want to learn more about how your business can leverage local search – I invite you to one of our upcoming SEO training courses here in Dallas. In the meantime – feel free to continue the conversation with me online – my Twitter handle is @BethKahlich.