09 Sep Google’s Recent Changes to Local Search
Google has been tinkering with local search lately, and that tends to make local marketers nervous. So here’s everything you need to know about those changes and those likely just around the corner.
A Cleaner Map
A local search on Google will often return a map that looks like someone fired a shotgun at it full of location pins. Therefore, in an attempt to lower the amount of clutter, Google is cracking down on SPAM listings through a filter that removes those locations from the map. For those of you managing location listings, keep an out on your own locations, because duplicate listings are finding it harder to sneak past the filter.
Reviewing their Review Policy
When Google rolled out “best-of lists” and critic reviews for local search, the move was universally panned by users with claims that Google was favoring their own content over third-party sites.
With all of the negative press, it’s no surprise that Google is now adding “Reviews from the web” back into its search results, essentially bringing user-generated content from third-party sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor into a more prominent position. This is good news for users, because as anyone who has ever looked up film reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, what the critic likes and what the consumer likes doesn’t always match up.
What does the drama between Google and third-party review sites imply? It implies that Google would prefer users simply took Google’s word on who they vouch for, thus increasing the odds that you don’t stray onto third-party review sites where Google can’t make money off of you.
It also implies that Google’s word isn’t golden with consumers, at least when it comes to reviews, and that consumers would rather trust a fellow consumer over a highbrow critic.
Still, look for Google to push for more review authority going forward. And since Google controls what search results we see, my money is on them being successful in establishing that authority in the long run.
Tick-Tock, Penguin, Tick-Tock
Don’t be surprised if the long-awaited Penguin update is finally waddling toward us as we speak.
Google is hesitant to roll out any major algorithm updates during the prime shopping season—hesitant to do anything that might trip up holiday sales and their own bottom line. But if a major algorithm is to take place, expect it to happen soon. In fact, in perhaps a portent of what is to come, a major search update took place last Friday, one that Google has so far declined to comment on. So be on the lookout!