1. HAVE YOU NOTICED A CHANGE IN RANKINGS? GOOGLE’S SHAKING THINGS UP WITH ITS NEW LOCAL SEARCH FILTERS

Google’s paramount goal is to provide its users with the best possible search experience. They leave no stone unturned to ensure that. In early 2017, Google introduced local search filters that allowed the users to sort results based on price, ratings and hours of operation. Taking this one step further, they are now automatically applying those filters.

It is user convenient for obvious reasons. They get the best possible relevant results for their search queries, on the go, THAT TOO without applying any filters.

However, it is a big blow to business owners who have failed to maintain a good online reputation. When Google automatically filters local businesses for those with 4-star ratings and higher, it places a lot of businesses at risk of losing online visibility. It is quite common for users to search terms like “Best Plumber”, “Best Thai Restaurant” and “Best Roofing Contractor” when they are looking for a local business. Such businesses, if they do not have more than a 4 star rating, will find it extremely difficult to keep a measurable presence on local search.

Nonetheless, it is a golden opportunity for the less popular businesses to amp up their exposure with Google local search SEO. SEO for Google local search entails inviting review and keeping information consistent and updated. With such SEO techniques, one can share the spot light with those who are already at the top.

The New Filters.

The best of everything: Users can now filter the results automatically, by just adding “best” to the keyword. If you search “best plumber”, Google will show only 4-Star+ rated plumbers. This filter will drastically influence the way businesses are ranked. Check out below how the results differ.

If you see the bigger picture here, you will realize that Google is heading towards providing a more advanced search experience where users will get results based on their actual intent. Local searches have grown to 46% of all searches on Google and will continue to rise. Therefore, Google is doing everything it can to enhance the local search experience for its users.

What is our take on this?
Businesses that fail to manage their reputation and update their listings with the most accurate, detailed and consistent information now run the risk of not ranking in searches when they would have in the past.

To help you get more reviews for your business, we highly recommend our review widget. It is a small piece of code which is placed on your website and helps you get positive reviews on Google, Yelp and Facebook. In addition, it helps to filter out fake negative reviews by competitors, thus ensuring positive experience to website users. Need more details? Please connect with our sales rep.

2. BOOST THE BOTTOM LINE OF YOUR BUSINESS WITH GOOGLE’S NEW INSTANT CHAT FEATURE.

Local business owners with a verified Google My Business listing can now allow visitors to message them right from the local knowledge graph panel in search results.

Here is a screen shot of the message button in the local panel on Google:

If you already have a chat feature on your website, you know how profitable it can be. The conversion rate increases drastically when you provide satisfactory answers to customer’s queries, instantly!

When people search for a specific product or service, they are usually at the end of the buying cycle. They know what they want, but still, have some questions in mind. So the business that provides the specific information they are seeking and in the quickest time possible, gets the business!

But here’s a warning – Do not enable this feature if you can’t respond quickly. It is exclusively for those who can respond faster. Customers can view your average response time. And if your response time is bad, the chat feature can do more harm than good if you’re slow.

For example: If someone’s car broke down in the middle of the highway and they are trying to reach you, but you are not answering! You can imagine how frustrating it will be for them & how badly it will affect YOUR reputation!

So opt for the chat feature ONLY if your response time is quick. As of now, this feature is available delete this available it’s mentioned twice currently available in select countries. In the US, it is live only for a select few local business owners. Google said they sent some businesses emails “inviting you to participate in the pilot.” If you have not been invited, you will not have access to this feature.

For more information on how to use this feature, check out this link from Google – https://goo.gl/bNZYXd

3. GOOGLE HAS DECIDED TO DO AWAY WITH GOOGLE INSTANT.

Google has decided to drop their Instant Search feature. They introduced it 7 years back in 2010. Google instant loaded results as users typed in the search box. Now with changes in how users use mobile (over 50% of all Google searches being on mobile), Google decided to do away with this feature.

It must be a tough time for Marissa Mayer, since almost everything she was involved in, has come to an end. Here’s the statement from a Google spokesperson:

“We launched Google Instant back in 2010 with the goal to provide users with the information they need as quickly as possible, even as they typed their searches on desktop devices. Since then, many more of our searches happen on mobile, with very different input and interaction and screen constraints. With this in mind, we have decided to remove Google Instant, so we can focus on ways to make Search even faster and more fluid on all devices.”

So now if you type in Google, you will only see suggestions, and upon clicking that suggestion or hitting Enter, you will get results. It can be interpreted as yet another move from Google towards intent search since Google Instant loaded results based on the literal meaning of the keywords rather than the intent of the users.

4. ADVERTISERS CAN NOW BID FOR PHONE CALLS IN GOOGLE ADWORDS.

Sometimes we want to target people who are using a specific device, or at a certain time or location and Google AdWords’ bid adjustment feature let us do exactly that. It enables us to increase or decrease the frequency of the ads based on the device, location or time.

Those who are not familiar with this feature, let us explain it in the simplest way possible:
If you run a plumbing business, you might want to target those who live nearby because when a plumbing issue strikes, people want immediate solution & they search for the plumbers who can come to their rescue ASAP. Or if you are a restaurant owner & offer a dinner buffet, it is better to increase the frequency of your ad during the evening.

However, bid adjustment is not for everybody. Be aware that it increases the work since if you’re targeting specific devices. For example, if targeting three different devices, you have to run three campaigns at the very same time! That is a lot of work, especially if you handle it on your own.

But for those who have a SEO for local search team, we have a good news for you. Google is now allowing you to add bid adjustments specifically for phone calls. This is BIG news for businesses that CAN answer phone calls. A phone call will always be the best call to action because it connects you with your prospected customers instantly and on a personal level. This definitely boosts conversion rates.

Click this link https://goo.gl/nohNk to know how it works or watch this video by Google which provides a good demo and does a nice job of explaining it.

5. EXPAND YOUR REACH WITH LINKEDIN’S NEW FEATURE — “WHAT PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT”

LinkedIn’s got a new extensive update to its often-maligned feature-news feed. It now allows users to expand their reach and influence on the platform. You can see a box appearing on the right-hand side of your page that says “What People Are Talking About” and some trending and breaking news stories.

The stories that appear here are, top professional news and conversations of the day. These stories are selected by LinkedIn’s news editors, leveraging data on and off LinkedIn. With the help of this new feature, you can increase your online presence.

Here is how you can use it for your benefit.

Use it to Generate Sales Leads – If you see that the news feed has a topic or news that interests your business or your expertise, you can join the discussion. Click on the story and then share your views and perceptions on it as your status update. Even you can add a link to a video, or a blog post, or any other material in connection with the topic.

LinkedIn gives your status an appropriate hashtag and adds it to the other similar posts, which are being shared or created. It is a great way to share your expertise and views on a trending topic with people, to grab their attention and increase your presence.

Use it for 1-on-1 Personalized Marketing on LinkedIn – With this new update you can directly interact with your target audience and showcase your thoughts and influence them with the value and services you offer. You can even share your own content, a related article or podcast, and by focusing on your specific niche, you can offer some value to the platform.

Get New Business – This feature gives you the opportunity to build connectivity with professionals in your industry. As people will start noticing you, they will look for your profile to find more about you. Make sure your profile is appealing enough.