Many of us are aware just how difficult it can be within the world of local SEO to get your company to rank, especially if you are working with a small budget or restricted time frame. With the ranking factors changing in importance regularly it can take frequent changes in tactics to try push your business up to the top of Page 1. Google have thrown quite a few curve balls over the past year and there is another one about to fly right through your window in the form of a new version of Google Maps.
What Does the Update Include?
The new version has just been rolled out and is focused on creating an even more personalised experience for each user. You are urged to sign into your Google account for the purpose of using your information, for instance your location. The more you use it then the more personalised it will become, presumably taking in your previous search history and the areas which you are in.
Unlike the previous version, no business listings will appear on the left hand side when you conduct a search within the maps function. Instead a red dot will appear on the map for each business relevant to your search and you will have the option to select the ones that are of interest. Larger icons will appear for some businesses and at the minute it is not certain why these are picked out as more suitable.
It could be to do with the businesses Google+ page as currently it seems that the amount of positive reviews contributes largely. It seems as though how complete the page is also has an effect as to whether it is pulled out. As users search more, the local businesses that are selected to stand out could change, but this is yet to be confirmed.
How will this Affect Local SEO?
As of this moment, we are still fairly unsure on the difference it will have within local SEO but we can take some pretty educated guesses. For starters, your Google+ account is going to be invaluable when it comes to local searches through Google Maps. We already knew it was pretty important in terms of page authority and social signals but if you don’t have a page now, it should be seen as a priority. Keep it updated and make sure you complete it as fully as possible. Include photos, descriptions of your services, opening hours and payment methods. Also be sure that your name, address and phone number is 100% accurate as not only will this help within a maps search but it will contribute to the citation factor, which will know is incredibly important at the moment.
As it currently seems that reviews are a huge contribution to the new features, make sure you encourage your customers to post a review on your page but only if you know that they will be giving a high rating. You are not allowed to pay people for reviews as these are clearly unnatural, but why not present a satisfied customer with a business card that features your Google+ URL? Encourage them to post a review and hopefully this could be the start a snowball effect of new customers.