In the beginning of August, users started noticing a change in Google’s local search results. From around the world, reports flooded online that Google has changed the numbers of results shown. You were probably used to seeing seven results when searching for a local business, When you previously for searched for example “barber in Dubai”, you could see seven local listings at the top of search results, along with a map, those were commonly called the “7 pack”.
The local pack update now features only three results, and works a bit differently.
Google confirmed at that they trimmed the “local 7-pack” to a “local 3-pack” or “snack-pack” as it starts to be referred to. The Local SEO industry experienced a shudder and opinions varied on what this could mean for local business owners in Dubai.
Let’s look at the major changes
Prior to the update seven local Dubai businesses from the google maps local results were listed when a user search for their favorite Dubai plumber for example.
On that result the Dubai Business name, website address, Google plus Page, Google Reviews, Full address and telephone number appeared. Even if your plumbing business in Dubai did not perform very well organically, if you did not have a lot of competition, enough citations and an optimized google plus strategy, you could still squeeze in on the search result’s first page:
Before the update –>
The “old” Google result pages for a US based query
After the update –>
Updated local 3 pack result page
The three-business display that is the new “local 3-pack” on the other hand immediately means less exposure for businesses with less organic traffic. Major differences are also immediately evident apart from cutting down four local businesses. No more listing of telephone numbers, no more exact addresses, instead only the street name of the business, which means a searcher could not get in contact or find you as easily :
We can notice that strangely enough, Google also removed the direct Google+ page links, making things more difficult for business owners in Dubai who rely on their updated Google + business page for relaying accurate information.
A Mobile optimized local pack
One of the main reasons why Google snipped their original 7-pack is for mobile users, and the growing amount of mobile devices used for daily searches. the new layout is easier on mobile, organic results may show up “above the fold” :
The new local search result page on mobile
How will this local pack update affect your local Dubai business?
It all depends on what was your initial local results presence. If you were present in the old “local 7 pack”, but not on organic results, and your business was not selected to be one of the top three local results, you could see a significant drop in traffic. On the other end, if you are a local business owner in Dubai who never listed in the top 7 results you now actually have a better chance at being noticed than ever before on organic search results.
Look at the positive side for the top twenty-business list, which will start featuring in a significant way. Making an easy to understand comparison: previously a business was listed with all their relevant business and contact details, now it is gone. This is where it is both good and bad, which will become clear to you in a minute. While it could be possibly worse for Dubai local websites with both organic and local high rankings, it makes it easier for other websites to be noticed.
Why am I saying that?
Keep in mind that all the old navigation options are effectively disabled. A searcher cannot even use the listed businesses search results effectively as they cannot click on the Google+ page or on the fly out business card anymore. Instead of picking out one of the previous seven displayed businesses, a user has to switch to a newly incorporated twenty-business map in order to dig up information on one of the three listed businesses –>
Local “top 20” results after clicking on the map in serps
The reasoning behind this is that searchers will click on the map in order to get more information on one of those three top results, which are on display. When they do click, the top twenty list appears in the drop down, thus your plumbing business or barbershop in Dubai still stand a chance of being noticed.
Similarly, all the organic results should see improved CTR (click through rate), simply by becoming more visible to the average user.
Another reason is that businesses in the fourth to seventh place rank did not generate a huge amount of activity. Those ranks were working towards the top three, but the way things are now, the competition levels have risen between all local businesses. Top 3 wants to remain and the rest would be aiming for top 3 spots.
Why Positive Google+ Reviews are of Utmost Importance
If you are an hotelier or restauranteur in Dubai, your ratings are more valuable to your business than ever before. Google incorporated in their search method an option for users to request for a business who has a specific amount of stars or ratings. If you own an “Oriental food in Dubai” with a four star rating and the user asked for an Oriental food in Dubai with 5-stars only, your restaurant would not featured.
You can search results based on review scores
Why Your Google Business Page still matters
Do not neglect your Google My Business Page, simply because it does not appear on the search results. The information regarding your business still comes from there; you will find in a search that a business’ hour is not listed, but under the listing, you will for example, see the business name and underneath it shows open or closed. Keeping your information such as operating hours relevant is always a good thing.
Google My Business info is used in the result pages
How Should you Optimize your website For 3-Pack
Things have changed for some who fond themselves “bumped off” page, where they used to rank fourth or fifth on local results, and it meant a lot to rank. This changes things and it does mean a different strategy especially if you do not rank in the top three.
You have two main routes :
– Continue to build your website’s Dubai SEO, you will need more citations than before to show up in the local pack, that is something that we can help you with.
– Redefine your target, to position yourself as a specialist in your field, instead of being a “locksmith”, you could target “commercial locksmith” for example.
Your link building strategy should include strong backlinks from authority sites, and relevant local citations from directories and citations sources.