This is search engine optimization we’re talking about here, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that some recent Google changes may have some new effects on local SEO.
The search engine giant recently updated their local ranking help page and adjusted their requirements for leaving reviews. What does all that mean for your local SEO strategy? Our NY / NJ SEO experts decided to take a closer look…
What’s changed in the local ranking help page?
Google’s previous local ranking help page consisted of about five paragraphs of text centered around how they determine local ranking, namely relevance, distance, and prominence. Now, they’ve made changes to almost all of the existing content and have added additional content, tripling the overall amount within the document.
The new document explains the need to have as much data about your business as possible in Google My Business, whether it’s your physical address, phone number, category, etc., and to keep that information updated.
It also stresses how helpful verifying your business location, managing and responding to reviews, adding photos, and ensuring your hours of operation are accurate all are when it comes to people finding your business in the local search results.
On top of all that, while Google still notes relevance, distance, and prominence as the keys to rankings, the new page expands on those areas. For some before and after shots of the document, check out this post from Search Engine Roundtable, Google Expands Local Ranking Help Document.
What’s changed with the requirements for leaving reviews?
Google has removed the requirement for a user to have a Google+ account in order to leave reviews on a local business within Google Maps and/or directly in the search results.
Now, as long as the user has a Google account, any Google account, then he or she can leave a review. The only requirement is that the reviewer leave his or her first and last name.
So, the search engine has essentially lifted one of the major barriers to interested, non-Google+ account-holding users who want to leave reviews. To see the new login system, check out this post from GetFiveStars.com, Google Reviews Just Got Easier – G+ No Longer Required.
What do these changes mean for local SEO?
As a longtime SEO company in NY and NJ, we can tell you that any changes made by Google will, and should, affect your local SEO strategy in some way, and these recent adjustments are no different.
So, if you don’t yet have your company information entered into Google My Business, you should, and from there, you need to pay attention to any changes that the search engine has made regarding how they determine local search rankings, even the slight ones, and then adjust accordingly.
As far as reviews now being easier to leave on the site, that could lead to a big rise in the overall amount of reviews left in Google search, which could prove to be very beneficial to local businesses since reviews are a top search ranking factor.
It also means that as long as you’re doing quality work and/or making quality products, it’ll be easier than ever for you to start earning the trust of searchers.
Google has spoken…
Like mentioned above, any time Google announces a change, even a slight one, you need to listen up. And if you’re a local business looking to maintain or improve your search rankings, you need to pay close attention to these recent ones.
We may not yet know the full extent of the fallout from these recent changes, but we know enough to start adjusting, so get to it, if need be.
About Us: Climb The Search, a leader in SEO in NJ / NY, offers the total search marketing package, including search engine advertising, inbound marketing, and content marketing. At CTS, we help businesses grow, every day.