Local SEO is constantly changing with new algorithms, and the new Google Maps rollout is no exception. Now, Google Maps is even more intuitive for searchers, but has the potential to make local SEO expert’s jobs a bit more difficult.
To return better search results, Google Maps now changes search terms to broaden search area and provide the best results for the searcher. These search term shifts happen as searchers click from one Google site to the next and, of course, return different search results.
For local SEO experts, this means broadening search terms and completing extensive keyword research that will keep clients on the top of local search and firmly situated within the 7-pack associated with Google Maps.
For users, the interface change of Google Maps will most likely overshadow the changes in search results. Google has now moved back to the 5-star rating system, backtracking from the change to a 30-point Zagat rating system, which many users struggled to embrace. The actual map has also become more interactive for local searchers, allowing users to hover over location pins and instantly receive comprehensive information without having to click-through. Clicking specifically on a location pin also keeps users on the map site, but offers them more information, including the 5-star ranking along with Zagat information. A full click-through will take searchers to the Google+Local page for the business.
Google+ and local SEO are great teammates, providing searchers with amazing access to reviews and general business information. Google Maps is now harnessing the partnership and incorporating individual searcher data into local searches performed with Google Maps results. This means each user (when signed into their Google+ account) will receive a fully customized map based on their Google+ network, previous searches and any reviews that they have submitted. Searcher are even able to filter results based on the input of top reviewers or others within their Google+ circles.
For businesses playing the local SEO game, Google Maps listings have become an important source of both information and sales. These new changes mean that reviews and social interaction will need to become an even more imperative part of local SEO strategy.
The new Google Maps is still in Beta, but testers are giving it rave reviews. As the interface it tweaked for more users, even more data will become available. During this time of rapidly changing SEO, it is imperative that you are partnered with a local SEO firm that knows the business and stays fully abreast of changing algorithms. If you are working a local SEO plan with a set of tactics from last year, your strategy will most likely fail. Your local SEO plan has to malleable if you want your company to stay on top of search.
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