In the past couple weeks we have noticed something interesting with a few of our clients who service specific geographic areas.

Some of their once stable top organic listings have been replaced with their Google Local listing.

In the past we had seen several searches bring up their Local Listing AND an organic listing meaning they were listed on the page twice. This meant double exposure and increased potential for a searcher to click through to their website.

But now some of their organic search results have moved to page 8 or even further and only their local listing remains on the first page of results.

This causes us to suspect that recent Google updates are changing how your local and organic listings interact and how Google is choosing to display local businesses in its local results. It also merits our attention to how we perform Local SEO.

Here’s an example of what I mean.

I did an organic search for “bed and breakfast Vancouver”  (a localized search not related to any of our clients) and see:

  • 3 organic listings for Bed and Breakfast directory sites
  • Followed by 7 local listings
  • Followed by 2 organic listings for actual B&B’s
  • Followed by 3 B&B directory sites

Notice that none of the local listings are repeated in the organic results and vice versa.

You can also notice that several of the organic listings are for directory sites that compile information about all Vancouver B&B’s into one site and are not actual bed and breakfasts located in Vancouver.

Google search result showing difference between organic and local listings

The benefits of having your Google Plus Local Listing being shown in Search Results include:

  • Ranking priority
  • Displays the number of reviews you have
  • Your business is pinned on the Google Map on the right side of the results
  • Searchers can hover over your listing and see a snapshot of your Google Plus profile
  • The map moves down the screen as users scroll down through results

3 Key Takeaways for Google Local Listings

After seeing this happening to some of our clients and confirming it with other search results, there are a few actions small and local businesses should take to protect their SEO work:

  1. If you are a local business you should optimize your Google Places listing.
  2. If you already have a listing you should encourage customers to write reviews on Google Places (the first B&B I would choose from the list would be the one with 9 reviews).
  3. Google has always favored sites with lots of relevant content. More recently Google has also started to favor strongly branded websites. Make sure that your focus on building your brand on your website.

It is also reinforces the points we made last week in our Google Plus Success or Failure in which we share how Google Plus is slowly being integrated into our everyday lives and business decisions even though most of us had written it off as a big flop in comparison to Facebook.

Without a Google+ Local Business profile you risk not being included in organic search results!

For more information about optimizing your Google Local business page please visit our Google Places Listing Service page.