Is Google’s Latest Update Dealing A Deathblow to SEO?

A great website that doesn’t rank high on search engines is like a magic trick in the dark. Research shows that an 89.82% of people click on links on the first page of search engines. If your site is listed on page two, three, or worse, your higher-ranked competitors are capturing the majority of your potential site traffic. That’s a fact. This could be costing your business an enormous amount in lost revenue.

A top search engine optimization (SEO) goal has therefore always been to get your site ranked on page-1 for your target keywords. But being just somewhere on page one is no longer enough.

Here’s why:

Google_Map_SEO_RankGoogle recently redesigned how search results are displayed with a full commitment towards mobile-first design. And for good reason. Of the 3.2 billion Internet users in 2016 (about 44% of the world population), about 2 billion will access the Internet through their mobile devices, according to International Data Corporation (IDC). In 2015, Google rolled out its ‘mobile friendly update’ that gives better rankings in search results to sites that pass Google’s mobile friendly test.

Google’s latest update is a redesign to how search results are displayed. Right column ads have been eliminated. In many cases, especially for highly competitive key terms, the top ad block was increased from three to four ads. This reduces the available real estate above the page fold (search results that are visible in a browser window when the page first loads, before scrolling) for organic search results.

Google is clearly transitioning to a “pay to play” model, making it increasingly important to complement PPC advertising with SEO and optimizing for Google Maps.

So, what are the SEO implications?

Google Heat MapGoogle also reduced the number of listings in Google Maps from 7 to 3. As you can see in the screenshot above, the Google Maps business listings are now displayed just below paid ads and are highly prized positions as they can drive an enormous amount of traffic.

To capture the majority of search results traffic, it’s important to not only get your site ranked on the first page of Google but as close to the top as possible. We refer to that area as the “red zone”.

That’s because of our natural eye movements. We read from top to bottom and from left to right. This Google Heat Map clearly illustrates that search results closer to the top of the page and above the page fold receive the majority of clicks.

5 tips to get your business to rank in the top 3 of Google Maps

Increasing your business ranking on Google Maps is somewhat of a complex process but well worth the effort. If your business is listed in the top three spots, you can expect to capture the majority of clicks, calls and inbound leads.

Formerly known as Google Places, Google My Business enables business owners to claim a listing for their business that may appear in Google search results. Virtually any type of business (with the exception of certain more risqué establishments) can claim a Google My Business listing, which will display information that searchers may want to know, such as address, opening hours, and customer ratings.

  1. Make sure your Google+ business page is set up, verified and listed in the appropriate category. Visit https://www.google.com/business. Embed a Google Map into the Contact page on your website.
  2. Make sure your business name, address and phone number (NAP) is registered correctly and is exactly the same in Google as it is listed on your website. Use the complete USPS-approved address information. And be sure you specify which geographic area you serve; specify nearby towns, zip codes or the radius.
  3. Get your Google My Business listing verified. The process can take up to a couple of weeks; Google usually insists on mailing a postcard with a unique PIN to the physical address listed on your Google My Business profile to confirm verification.
  4. Get as many citations as possible – get your business listed in local and national business directories and related sites. Google uses business citations as a means to provide searchers with the most relevant businesses within a geographic area.
  5. It’s well known that customer ratings and reviews can make or break a local business in search engine results pages (SERPs). In fact, a recent study from BrightLocal found that 92% of consumers read online reviews and that star ratings are the #1 factor used by consumers to judge a business. Positive Google ratings and reviews also contribute to SEO rankings and site traffic so encourage your happy customers to leave their feedback.

By applying these and other advanced SEO tactics (and a few ethical tricks) AIS Media’s Atlanta SEO team delivered a 750% increase in Google page-1 SEO rankings to this Long Beach, CA Dentist & Orthodontist practice.

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