Google Changed Local Search Results

It is a well-known fact that Google can unexpectedly and radically change its search engine system either by updating or changing its algorithm. Google has a separate algorithm for local search and it’s called Pigeon. It was launched in 2014.

Local Search Results with a Desktop

On the 6th of August 2015 Google changed its local search algorithm. This was shown by different search results layout. Previously there were 7 different sets of business info on the top but after this change there are 3 different sets of business info. A screenshot below shows local search results of a desktop computer when search term is ‘solicitor dublin’. When you click on a name of business it opens a new local business info page with location on a map. Website option goes directly on to website of this business. Directions option opens a Google Maps page.Local solicitor Dublin

Local Search Results with a Smartphone

On the other hand, when you make this same local search ‘solicitor dublin’ on your mobile device, Google gives quite same search result. Locations of these 3 businesses can be found on a map and there are options to make a phone call. We can say that Google has designed this change to serve more the increased usage of smartphones. These top 3 sets fit perfectly on the screens of smartphones. This is illustrated by a screenshot below.

Local mobile search

When we click on a name of business, a new mobile page opens showing logo with name of this business, there are 3 options: call, directions and website. The same applies for these options as with desktop search. In addition, you can find address, business hours, phone number, street view, photos and location of this business on a map.

Local Search Results Differ Between Industries

In addition, Google gives different local search results for different industries. Let’s take a look at for example restaurants and how Google has arranged their results? Screenshot below shows the local search result when we make a search by using a desktop computer and by using term ‘irish restaurant dublin’. The top 3 sets are there showing those restaurants that have got many good reviews so their rating is at least 4 or higher. Therefore we can say that when a restaurant has a good rating, it also gets better ranking in local search.

Local Irish restaurant search

When we click on the first restaurant, we get a new page showing local business information, photos, popular times, review summary, rating of this restaurant and a map showing location of this business. This is illustrated by a screenshot below (click for a bigger image).

Local restaurant search


What does this mean in terms of local SEO? As a result of this change, local business owners have to realize that they should adapt to this modification and optimize their websites so that their belong to these top 3 sets. By this way they gain competitive advantage over those who get lower ranking. A business who does not adapt to this change is left behind.

Although Google has launched the separate algorithm for local search, this does not mean that business owners should forget regular organic SEO either onsite or offsite. Local SEO means among others, building backlinks, getting reviews, submitting your website to directories and having citations. However, in a small country like Ireland you can easily reach the maximum number of relevant local links,  so you have to rely on basic SEO in order to improve your organic ranking on Google.

Is Your Web Design Mobile-Friendly?

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Update

On the 21st of April 2015 Google did its latest algorithm update, which is called mobile-friendly update. This concept of mobile-friendly simply means that you either have a mobile responsive or mobile optimized website. From now on Google recognizes mobile-friendly websites and gives them separate ranking in search results of mobile devices.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, it is obvious that user experience on mobile devices is worse than when you use web design which optimize your website for a smartphone. Usually text is too small making reading impossible without zooming. There are websites designed for wide-screen monitors. This kind of websites do not fit into small screen of smartphones, so user experience is scattered. It’s a well-known fact that, if a website is not mobile-friendly and user experience is bad, the majority of website visitors will not come back. This means that a local business lose potential customers.

Google has developed a good mobile-friendly test so that you can see, if your website is mobile-friendly or not. You can find this test site here Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

What Business Information Do Mobile Users Seek?

The recent survey (April 2015) of BrightLocal – a British SEO firm – shows that those small and medium-sized enterprises who do not optimize they website are not so competitive than those who do. Let’s take a look at Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. What information is most important to you when you are looking at a local business website on your mobile?

Most important info mobile

This figure 1 shows that when a mobile user is seeking local business information on his/her mobile device, the most important information is:

1) physical address 52%
2) map and driving directions 47%
3) opening hours 44%
4) phone number 37%

This indicates that the mobile user is coming to shop! He/she has already made a buying decision and is looking for contact information in order to visit at a local business and make a purchase.

Figure 2 below shows a change in time regarding preference of having a mobile optimized website compared to not having such a site.

Figure 2. Are you more likely to contact a local business, if they have a mobile optimized site?

More likely contact mobile

We can see that in 2015 61% of mobile users are more likely to contact a local business, if they have a mobile optimized website. In 2013 the corresponding percentage was 38%. So there have happened a major shift in this sense. In 2015 39% of mobile users think that it’s not important to have a mobile optimized website. In 2013 the corresponding percentage was 62%.

We can say that the Google’s mobile-friendly update is a result of increased usage of mobile devices during the last years. Today, over 50% of all local searches are performed on mobile devices. This sets a challenge for local business owners to utilize web design which optimize their websites for mobile devices, so that they can be found in Google search results with such a device. It is obvious that the local business with mobile optimized website has a competitive advantage over those businesses who don’t have one.

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