Have you heard? Google made another sweeping change to offer an improved way of listing local businesses in search results. Say “bye bye” to local 5 or 7-packs and “hello” to the new and improved 3-pack layout as Google moves toward offering more mobile-friendly search options.

As we dive into Google’s update, there are a few changes you should be aware of and how they may affect you as a business owner. We’ll dive into what this means and what action steps you may need to take.

What’s New for Local Search Results?

When Google rolled out these updates, the appearance of the 3-pack and usability changed drastically. Here are a few formatting changes you need to know.

Top 3 Businesses Displayed

As we mentioned earlier, Google used to show local businesses in packs of 7, 5 or 3 giving multiple businesses a fair shot at rising to the top of the page. Now, Google is tossing out 7 or 5-packs in favor of 3-packs only. This change simplifies the options for users (especially mobile users) but creates more competition for businesses to show up on first page results.

No More Phone Numbers or Addresses

Google removed phone numbers and full business addresses from highlighted listings. Instead of having your business contact info readily available, users are given the street name and are left to search for your phone number or click the “Call” button on mobile devices. Desktop users now have easy access to company websites or directions to locate businesses.

Store Hours Added for Convenience

Now Google makes locating opening and closing hours easier than ever by sharing when a business is open or not in the 3-pack. Results may vary depending on the time of day you search. If a user finds your business before or after you’re closed, Google tells when you’ll be open again.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

To keep ranking high in local searches, here are a few tips to consider.

Don’t Panic

We know, easier said than done. But Google will continue to make improvements and changes so there’s really no need to panic. The best thing you can do is be informed.

If you ranked #4 before the change, there’s a good chance your traffic hasn’t been affected as much as you think. In fact, one of the main reasons Google removed the four through seven rankings was because they weren’t generating much activity.

Ratings Are Crucial

Even though Google removed addresses and phone numbers, they left the starred reviews and ratings on purpose. If you want to rank high in the top three local slots, your ratings need to be stellar. Focus on making great customer reviews a priority as these can help you climb the SEO ladder much faster.

Focus Your Local SEO Efforts

To make the greatest impact, your local search engine optimization efforts need to be integrated with your overall strategy. This means you need an optimized website with a strong local presence and a marketing campaign to keep your brand and business in the spotlight. Whether your business is currently in the top 3 or not, focusing on local SEO is important to remain ahead of the pack.

Your website should be mobile-optimized, user-friendly, and filled with strong content focused on local keywords scattered naturally throughout your website. Increase your ranking efforts by providing clear, consistent, and usable information through a company blog and blogging strategy.

Don’t get left behind. Keep up to date with these new Google changes and pivot your SEO or marketing tactics so you’re not left in the dust. Need help optimizing your website for local SEO? We can help with that. Give us a call to learn how we can help you navigate Google these changes.