When Google+ started many moons ago, the tacit deal (regardless of Google’s protestations to the contrary) was that if you were active and added a whole lot of content to the service, you were planning to show up better in Google’s main search results. Matters did not actually play out that way, especially for local companies, most of which did not have a hint as to their Search Engine Optimization man was constantly requesting them for things to post on it or what Google+ was.
Now we’ve Local Business Cards, powered by Google Posts (the same stage that brought us Candidate Cards). This new, experimental SERP attribute is explicit about enabling companies to post content into Google’s search results as cards that are scrollable. Google is presenting this as “an experimental new podium on Google,” but if this one sticks around, it’s actually going to kill local Search Engine Optimization for some companies — and kill at local Search Engine Optimization for others.
How different query kinds manage Local Business Card results
There are just two main forms of local search queries: business name queries (e.g., “Bob’s Giant Burgers”) and company classification queries (e.g., “Hamburgers in Pleasanton”).
While the bulk of these queries on either desktop or mobile bring up Google My Company results on top of the SERPs, there still is lots of “local all-natural” traffic to be had from both sets of queries. In general, the key kinds of websites competing for all these queries are local companies, service area companies (regional or national players) and local directories of all shapes, sizes and junk strategies.
Let us look at what these new SERPs look like for both kinds of local search queries:
Business name query with Local Business Cards
In the picture below, you can see a SERP including a Local Business Card (highlighted in red) for the query “escape pod comics.”
The company or Google nearly 100 percent content presents this SERP. And in instances where the company is active on Facebook, Twitter or another social media (like this one seems to be), there’s practically no other content from conventional players in the neighborhood organic space (e.g., Yelp, Yellow Pages websites). On a cellular device, these Posts will probably be exceedingly participating/diverting from the other results.
Company classification query with Local Business Cards
The screenshot below shows what occurs when you seek the more general, non-branded query of “comic book store huntington ny”:
This SERP is much more extreme. Company classification queries that are local are a number of the queries that are very useful out there. Local buyer intention is represented by them — but unlike a query that is branded, the buyer does yet not understand which company it’s going to hire.
This could be a particular instance, as there are likely not a great deal of comic book stores in Huntington, New York. But only ask the hundreds of jewelers in the Buffalo region, including the advertisers on top of the page, how they feel about this SERP:
The Postpost Kill List
So who is going to get who is going to kill at this new development in local search and killed?
Pretty much any non-local company web site is right at the mercy of these hot small Local Business Cards, including:
local directory sites,
service area companies,
content websites (Why would Google reveal eHow or some similar website for “how to select a diamond ring” queries, which have a high level of local purpose, if a company in the searcher’s city has that content on one of its Posts? Particularly in the event the user is searching on cellular, which Google believes constantly may have local purpose.), and
local companies that do not understand how to create content like this.
The Postpost “Gonna Kill It” List
On the flip side, I see these things, and I believe they’re definitely going to be a bonanza for several players, like:
Local companies who understand the best way to create content that is engaging,
Spammers who understand the best way to hijack listings and make content that is engaging,
Bureaus who understand the best way to create and optimize content and, at scale
Google (A direct pipeline into the SERPs is rather difficult to blow off. The more time/money companies spend on this particular stuff, the less they spend on Facebook.).
Bureaus will be the largest beneficiaries. As we’ve seen with Google My Company, adoption is driving tremendous increase in the Neighborhood Search Engine Optimization services sector and of a service which pours your information into Google’s SERPs is really simple for a large variety of companies to blow off. Now, however, imagine that existence gains from routine updating and optimization, and existence can be guaranteed by an agency in the SERPs. I see only green field for local marketers small-scale and large alike.
If we could simply get Google to never kill this matter, we all might simply have the ability to kill it.
Some views expressed in this informative article may be those of a guest writer and not automatically Search Engine Land. Staff writers are recorded here.
About The Writer
Andrew Shotland is the proprietor of Local SEO Guide, a top local search engine optimization website and consultancy.
(Some pictures used under license from Shutterstock.com.)