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New Change in Google : This IS Going to Affect Your Small Business!

I’m frustrated as I do a multitude of searches this morning and search after search after search shows this new 3-pack for local listings across various cities in search results. I’m frustrated as a search marketer, but I’m even more frustrated for my clients and those small businesses that have worked so hard to gain trust and authority and earned their spot on page one of Google.

7-Pack Goes Down to 3-Pack

What exactly am I talking about? When you used to do a search for a local business in Google – there was a nice listing of 7 local businesses on the results page, called the 7-pack. Google has now narrowed that listing of 7 businesses to just 3 businesses. Narrowing your businesses’ chance of showing up in that pack or even on the first page.


Local 7-Pack

The first mentions of this shift came from a ton of chatter last week about Google “testing” this new “3- pack”. It was initially rolled out only in certain services areas. Then came word on Friday that is was in fact a new rollout. Google has been reached for comment, but has yet to confirm this.

But I Thought User-Experience Was Important

I’m trying desperately to figure how this is a good user experience and how it could possibly benefit any business but the 3 listed in the new 3-pack format and even that is questionable. I liked the 7-pack. It was a nice, diverse list and gave you a decent selection to choose from. It listed 7 businesses’ information on the main page to help you make an informed decision. It listed the business phone number, address and website for your review and decision making efforts.
Now, however, there is no visible phone number, physical address or website url listed.

Here’s a view of how it looks now:


Local 3-Pack

This new shift simply lists the business name, review ratings and a link to the website, a link to directions and a mention of what time the business opens. These new listings seems to be heavily influenced by Google reviews.

Visually, this shift might make sense from a mobile usability stand point, but that’s about it. This down right sucks for desktop users. Adwords and organic listings are about to be more important than ever.

Google, did you even take the user experience into consideration at all before rolling this out?

Not only is the information provided very limited comparatively speaking, but once you make a selection you continue to see your competitors information plus additional competitors. It pops up with 7-10 additional competitors, half of an image which is pulling from a Google+ page that isn’t linked any more and has a huge emphasis on reviews. While it’s nice to have more choices the information is so limited you can’t make a decision from this one click – you have to click on each listing just to see the business information.


Local Listings

To quote my teammate, Tony Svoboda “This new format must have tested well in google focus groups, it seems to be designed for task completion, ie choosing the best business based on reviews, then let’s you get your directions to that business with a visual map to orient the user to where they might be located.

3 Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Small Business!

1. Google My Business :
Make sure you have a verified “Google My Business” page. Check by going to Google My Business, fill it out completely and verify it with Google.
2. Get Online Reviews :
Get more online reviews on Google and other directories such as Yelp, Bing and Yellow Pages. Ask your customers to review your business online. Or call me directly and ask me how – 952-303-5742. You can also customize a review request form for free, using the “Review Handout Generator” from Whitespark.
3. Provide Useful Content :
Provide usable content on your website that solves a problem for your customers. When it comes to content, it’s about quality, not quantity. There is a big difference between writing content to rank and writing content to solve a problem.

I’m officially dubbing this change the “crap-pack”, because it’s crap! Unless you are consistently adding new valuable content (not just to rank, but that is useful to the end user) and have the most online reviews in your business practice area, I would expect to see less visibility and less traffic. There is still a ton of testing and “wait and see” that needs to be observed here so stay tuned for additional information or contact me directly with any questions and how this may impact your small business.

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