It’s been two months since Google removed paid ads from its SERP’s right side. While many businesses are still adjusting to what this means for their PPC strategy, we want to discuss what this means for local search.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, Google made a significant update to how results show up on its page. The search giant recently caused quite the commotion in the digital marketing world when it removed the right side advertising altogether and made room for a fourth ad at the top of the page.
For local searches, the results page now shows up to four ads, followed by the Local Pack (or Snack Pack) and organic results below all of this. This means that organic results are appearing below the fold.
What does this mean for your digital strategy?
1. Focus on your local strategy
If you are a local business, this means that it’s time to ramp up your local strategy. It is no longer an option to not claim and manage your Google My Business account. In order to be easily found online, you need to show up on the local pack. Even if there are no ads competing for space with your business keywords, the local pack still covers almost the whole screen on both desktops and mobile. If you are only betting on organic results, chances are you won’t be found. That’s why focusing your efforts on appearing in the top three Google Local Listings is essential.
2. Keep an eye on your paid campaigns.
If in addition to optimizing for local search results, you are also investing in AdWords, stay calm. Unlike all the catastrophic speculations for paid ads suggested, the changes to CPC and click-through rates have remained steady. Our advice is to keep monitoring your CPC and click-through rates for any aftermath effects. Keep in mind that for many local businesses, investing on local search has a higher ROI.
3. Be great on mobile.
Not only are users gravitating to their phones for local searches more than ever before, but it looks like Google’s latest changes signal continued mobile growth. In fact, Google will soon launch “Test My Site”, a new diagnostic tool to help small businesses the mobile friendliness of their sites. If you want your site to be liked by Google (and if you ever want to be found by customers, you do!) then having excellent mobile responsiveness and speed is essential.
4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
Since your presence on search results is determined by your success in Local Pack listings, paid ads and organic results, your strategy should unsurprisingly include a combination of the three. Google can, of course, change things around at any given moment, so having a diversified strategy can prove valuable when unexpected updates happen.
Although Google’s latest changes are no reason to panic, they are enough to make us sit up and pay attention. As local searches increase and Google adjusts its results accordingly, your business needs to do the same.
If you want to show up on local search results, you need to take control of your Google My Business acount for each of your locations, optimize your site for mobile and focus your efforts on local SEO best practices. With these in place, you can soon forget about the right hand ads!
itle Image: Designed by Freepik