There’s been a lot of changes in 2015 that have impacted the Google Maps search results and the way local businesses get displayed on desktop and mobile search results. I’ll save the details of those changes for a later post. But today, I want to share with you 3 things, or 3 changes in strategy, I’ve implemented in 2015 that have created the greatest positive impacts on our client’s local search results.
#1: Understand the top 3 is the new #1
The first realization I had to contend with this year is the fact that Google now only displays the top 3 local search results in Google Maps (or letters A, B, & C). This was a fundamental shift from their previous display strategies of showing the top 7 (the 7 pack) and top 5 (the 5 pack). So now, regardless of whether you are on a mobile device or desktop computer, you will only see the top 3 local search results from Google Maps.
The lesson here is knowing that less than 30% of searchers make the efforts to go to page 2 of any search results, which makes the top 3 in Google Maps the new #1.
#2: Metro Area Name in Title
One of the most hotly debated questions in the world of local SEO is can I use my city name in the title of my Google business page?
According to Google’s policy, the answer is no. According to Google support the answer is yes, as long as you do not use more than one modifier in the title. A modifier is a word or phrase that would define the metro area. For example, “Jane’s Dermatologist in Athens” would be fine, but “Jane’s Dermatologist in Athens & Atlanta” would be not. The second instance would be using more than one modifier or city name.
I have an HVAC client in the metro Dallas area that is perhaps giving me insights into the impact of city names in titles. For example, whenever I search his business category “ac repair” along with his city name, I see him ranking letter A, #1 in Google Maps every single time.
However, whenever he searches, he does not see his business anywhere in the local Google Maps search results. He is ranked #1 organically, but his priority is the Google Maps search results. And for this client, I am using his city name (modifier) in the title of his Google business page.
My theory is, perhaps because I’m using his metro area name in the title of his Google business name, he (being located in that city) isn’t seeing his business in the search results. Yet when I search (being located outside of his city), I see him ranked #1 / letter A every single time.
Because of this, I’m considering removing his city name from the business page title to see what happens on his end. I’ll keep you posted on the outcome of that test, as it will be interesting to see if there’s any impact on his local search results after removing the city name modifier.
#3: Business Blogging for local SEO success
I’ve saved the best for last! In 2015, we’ve added a business blogging service to our local SEO strategy for clients. And without question, publishing blog posts on my client’s websites has made more of an impact on their local search rankings than any other strategy I’ve seen over the past year.
We have two clients specifically where we’ve started producing blog posts consistently on their websites over the past 6 months. And both clients have shot up from a top 7 rankings, to now ranking #1 / letter in Google Maps. I’ve been working on the local SEO for both of these clients for more than a year now, but within 3 weeks of publishing blog posts, they have both shot up to #1 / letter A. And both of these clients are in hyper competitive business categories in large metro areas.
There is no question that adding our blogging service for local SEO has made a tremendous impact on their rankings in Google Maps search results. And here’s a few of the reasons I believe this is happening:
- Increased traffic: as a result of our consistent blog postings, our client’s organic search traffic to their websites has more than tripled over the past 6 months. This is traffic coming to our client’s websites from Google’s organic search results.
- Social media distribution: each blog article we publish on their sites gets shared across their social media profiles such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus. And traffic to their websites via social media has liekwise tripled over the past 6 months.
- Increased crawling & indexing from Google: as a result of publishing new articles on their websites, Google has dramatically increased their frequency of crawling and indexing the new content. This increased frequency of crawling and indexing has allowed their sites to grow in relevance and authority in Google.
These are the three factors that I believe have made the greatest contribution to increasing the authority of our client’s websites. And as a result of the increased authority, they are experiencing higher rankings in Google Maps.