Google Local Pack Combines Organic & Paid Listings
Google is adding another new ad placement into search results, this time for local businesses. Local ads are not entirely new, Google Maps have had ads for a long time. Below is an example of the current map ads:
In addition to the map, Google is now looking to include local ads in the standard search results within the local business listings section (the “local snack pack”). The local snack pack typically contains 3 local businesses that Google has determined are the most relevant for the search, the user’s history, and his/her location. These new ads appear above the map and organic listings, though industry watchers have tweeted versions of the ads right above the 3 organic listings. Google officially announced the plan at SMX.
Strategies to Consider
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Combined Approach. For businesses with a local footprint such as retailer stores or hotels, this means thinking about a combined strategy for local. Working to build organic rankings makes sense anywhere you have a store, while paid placements can either supplement organic listings or create a presence when organic rankings are lacking. It’s likely that a site appearing in both the organic and paid spots in a local pack would benefit from the same effect text links do. When seen together, data has shown click-through rates become greater than the sum of their parts due to brand exposure. That said – it’s always best to test and see what works for your brand.
Proper Location Data. Undoubtedly, local businesses that continue to have accurate and thorough structured data around their business locations will be the beneficiaries here. Proper local data is central to organic listings – it’s necessary for keeping Google My Business current and comprehensive, as well as having optimized local pages on your site. The same data is key when implementing paid local ads in the proper places.
New Data Needs. Additionally, having a handle on your customer data, in-store metrics, Google My Business insights, and site analytics will continue to grow in importance. Building the business case for changing local marketing efforts starts with understanding the landscape.