Why Changes to Google’s Local Search Results Make PPC Advertising more Crucial for Local Businesses

There are a lot of reasons to include PPC advertising as part of your internet marketing strategy. It can allow you to reach a very focused, highly targeted audience, and to pay only for displaying ads to people who are genuinely interested in what you do. This has always been the case (well, for as long as search engines have been our go to way of finding products and services), but for locally focused businesses, it has become even more prevalent thanks to changes to the way Google displays local results.

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How Does Google Treat Local Searches?

Local searches are displayed in a slightly different way to non location specific results. When Google detects from your search terms that local results would be appropriate, it displays what is known in the search engine industry as its ‘local pack’. The local pack is that part at the top of the search results that shows a map and the locations of some businesses relevant to your search, along with some of those companiesí details. Normal search results are shown below the local pack, which is below ‘the fold’ on mobile screens and many desktop searches. Research shows that when the local pack appears, most users can find what they were looking for in it and therefore don’t really look at the organic search results that appear beneath it.

August 2015 Local Pack Changes

As of August 2015, Google’s local pack displays the top three, rather than up to seven, local results. It also displays different information in the listings it gives for the businesses included, allowing them to include things like opening hours, and even products, as well as contact details.

The changes Google made to the local pack in August are interesting for a number of reasons. Typically, when Google make a change they roll it out in different territories to test audience reaction to it, however their local pack changes were quickly deployed to users all over the world. This means it was a change they were confident in and had reason to implement universally.

What Do These Changes Mean to Businesses Who Rely on Local Searches for New Customers?

For the companies that make it into the top three listings, the new local pack will probably ensure more business, as the enhanced listings make it easier than ever for customers to make contact. For businesses previously in the fourth position or below, for example those in very competitive local markets such as hairdressers or restaurants, it will mean no longer appearing in the local pack at all. For businesses in this situation, going with a strong PPC AdWords advertising strategy working with a good pay per click management service can ensure that good potential customers will still see their business when they search.

The shake up to Google local results will force a lot of businesses to review their internet marketing, and it is likely that this will inspire an increase in PPC investment among these types of businesses.