Google Local Pack Is 233 Percent More Important

With Google’s recent reduction of Local Map Pack positions from seven to three, the importance of getting your listings optimized and into the top three positions has become much more important.

Now, there are numerous articles dealing with the exact details of the changes such as telephone numbers removed and linkage to Google+ pages. Instead of focusing on these elements, I will deal more with the whys and the wherefores to help understand the impact of these changes and how to adjust your local strategy.

Why?

As fictional football player from the movie Jerry McGuire Rod Tidwell says to his agent Jerry McGuire, “Show me the money. Oh-ho-ho! SHOW! ME! THE! MONEY!” 

Google receives no payment for listings from Local Map Pack – zero. And they are aware of what we learned more than two years ago from the Localeze/15miles Local Search Study: that local listings are the most relevant and trusted by consumers.

opinions-on-search-results-chartSo consumers like and trust Local Map Pack listings most. Add to this the fact that Google searches on mobile devices have now eclipsed desktop searches in terms of total volume. Also, mobile cost-per-click costs have historically been 30 percent less than desktop cost-per-click costs. Here, we start to see an important insight. In order to continue to grow revenue in a shifting environment, Google needs to increase the volume of click activity and cost-per-click coming from mobile devices. Enter the newer Google paid search ad format, which remarkably looks a lot more like a Local Search Result than a paid ad:

google-local-paid-search-ad-format

What is especially signifigant is the fact that the new paid ad format includes a link for “directions.” According to the previously-mentioned Localeze/15miles Local Search Study, driving directions are one of the most consumed factions of information.

This addition of a click-point for “directions” will undoubtedly drive up paid clicks. Amazingly, “directions” are no longer featured in the Local Map Pack, as it was previously. Note the appearence of the old mobile ad and Local Map Pack listing: 

google-old-local-map-pack

Supplemental searches show that the new ad format allows for three paid ad positions yielding yet another means for Google to increase mobile paid advertising click traffic:

google-new-local-pack-mobile-ads-dentist

Here are a few articles to help you hone your skills and get even better at understanding about mobile and local optimizations:

Integration of Efforts

All too often, both large and small marketers focus on one or a very few components at the exclusion of integrating their effort’s elements. The buzzword for this type of focus is omnichannel. Quite frankly, omnichannel is an aspiration for most marketers. I would be happy to see marketers simply integrating their directional elements: local and mobile, SEO, reputation management, and paid search. It is time to understand this is not an “either/or” decision but an “and” decision to determine the proper balance of elements that causes maximum lead and inquiry flow.

I find it odd that SEO practitioners tell clients to “focus on organic and listings,” while the SEM agencies focus purely on position advantage and position control elements of PPC. The truth of the matter is, combining these segments with additional tactics like ratings and reviews management can provide a marketer with a dominate first-page position multiple times over what focusing on any one component can provide.

Google’s recent reduction of Local Map Pack positions from seven to three is not the first nor the last time that Google will adjust the Local Map. So increase your focus on local and it’s relationship to mobile.

Some may ask how I came to the calculation of 233 percent for my headline. If you know the answer, add a comment below. First correct answer gets bragging rights.

Homepage image via Shutterstock. 

 

 

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