Google’s Local Search algorithm is an ever evolving, and sometimes cruel beast. Google admittedly makes updates every day, but some updates have broader impact than others. Just last June 25th, many Local Search observers were reporting flux in rankings. To anyone monitoring these observers’ social feeds recently, it was another fascinating look at how an action by Google can reverberate out into the SEO social sphere. But watching others talk about it on social media is not the same as getting hard data. Some conclusions were that the recent update affected positions 5 thru 10. Some said they only affected niches like Food and Beverage, Travel and Health and Fitness. And those are good niches to monitor, no doubt.
There are many ways to observe Google’s algorithm changes. One component in following Google is know where they test new changes first. It’s my opinion that to get a good idea (bear in mind, one can NEVER have an exact approximation as Search is just too encompassing and complex), following the niches of Locksmiths and Plumbers is a terrific place to look.
These business models have low barrier of entry, depend greatly on the inbound phone call, and have a lot of Local Search professionals being compensated for improving visibility for these business owners. That means you have a lot of cooks in that kitchen, doing lots of smart AND very dumb things.
Last October, in fact, Google first rolled out a new verification program for Google My Business to combat Maps listing spam and their first niche to target was Plumbers and Locksmiths. These two niches are notorious for these kind of shenanigans, and Google’s choice of niches there speaks to the dynamic change and attention that is paid to those search results.
I would recommend any Local Search professional to pick a Plumber and Locksmith search profile in a very competitive market like Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco to keep an eye on how Local Search and the 3 pack evolves. Reach out to me on Twitter at @JayTurnerSEO with your own thoughts… what niches do you follow intently to track what works and what doesn’t? Am I off base here?
We all need to be careful on where we get our feedback. And you can’t improve what you don’t measure.