It is well-known that Google keeps changing its rules/algorithms used in ranking search results (both paid and organic i.e.non-paid).
Just this past month, February 2016, Google has made yet another major change that could have a huge impact on local businesses.
Type in any keyword you will notice that the paid advertising spots on the right side of a result page are ALL Gone!!
Now Google keeps up to 7 paid advertising spots on a search result page; many times 0 or only 1 result on top.
To illustrate this point, I made a screen shot.  This is what you get if you type in “acupuncture in boston”.
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Only one paid ad on top, and no ads on the right.
Here is another screen shot when I searched “restaurants in boston”:
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You will see no paid ads on top at all, none on the right side, either.
What this shows is that
  • Now that the advertising space is more precious, local businesses need to be more careful in writing and optimizing their ads so it is more likely to be shown.  Once you get your ads out there: fewer ad spots will mean less competition!
  • Another important thing to do, if you haven’t done so already, is to set up Google Places (map, phone number, location etc.) for your business, and complete the profile.  This is vital for a local business.  As you can see, Google keeps these listings up on top, even above the organic results.
  • As far as organic search result goes, ranking on the first page is pretty tough for a competitive business such as restaurants. Yelp or other review sites fill up the first page quickly.  For less competitive business (e.g. rock climbing), it is quite doable to show up on the first page with some optimization of the website, which I will write about in another email.
Hope you will take a minute or two to google search some target keywords for our business to see how your business is ranking.
Do you like the new google search result page?  Are the results shown more relevant to what you are looking for?  Let me know!