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 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.
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.
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).
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.