Google are making more changes to the way they display local results on your search pages. Just after we posted about local update resulting in businesses being shown based on their proximity to you, Google started rolling out an update that changes these local results when someone adds ‘best’ at the start of their search.
Previously, someone searching for something like ‘best hairdressers near me’ would just get a list of all the hairdressers that were close to their location. Google obviously picked out the flaw in this, as people are searching to find an opinion of their credibility, rather than a directory of everything, which has resulted in the latest update.
Now, when someone searches for a phrase containing ‘best’, or something similar, at the start of their phrase, the local pack will update to only show businesses with four-star reviews and up.
What difference does this make?
Google reviews, and reviews in general, should be given attention by business owners. Small business owners will be the people most affected by this update, for one of two reasons: you either have existing reviews, or you don’t.
Naturally in business, you’ll come across clients that love you and some that aren’t as keen, however if those customers who don’t feel they’ve had the best experience decide to review you on Google, it could be more costly than before, as you need to work harder to earn positive reviews which will increase your average back above 4. Plus, even if you haven’t set up a business page, because anyone can leave a review on Google, you could have a single bad review that downgrades your business without even knowing.
This also potentially penalises companies that simply aren’t as active in digital marketing as others. If you don’t have any reviews at all, you won’t be shown when people search for your services in the local pack. For all intents and purposes, you could be the Apple of hairdressing, but if people aren’t compelled to tell others about their experience then it’s a huge missed opportunity.
What your business can do about the update
Check your Google My Business account and assess your reviews. Do everything you can to mitigate bad ones, and make sure you respond to the positive ones thanking customers for their feedback.
If you don’t have an account - create one. You’ll have more control over your online appearance as a result and can update images, logos, opening hours over holidays etc.
Make a point of asking your customers to review you on Google (or other channels like your website or Facebook). Simply by incorporating it into your sales process, you'll be promoting the fact you have an online presence (even if you don't have a website) which makes it easier for customers to get back in touch with you, at the same time as potentially boosting your online credibility.
Most importantly, be genuine. As we mentioned earlier, not everyone is going to be an easy customer. By showing people how you responded to tough situations, you can win their trust more easily than from raft of hyper-positive reviews.
If you need advice on the local search or digital marketing in general, contact our MD, Steve.