If you haven't noticed, we're big proponents of taking advantage of Google Local search to help potential customers find your company and sign up for an energy audit or a home performance upgrade. Google remains by far the biggest search engine in the world, and with more and more people looking for local businesses online every day, it's one of the most important channels for getting new customers for your home performance business.
So, we take note when Google makes major changes to its local search algorithm, two of which appear to have cropped up in the past couple weeks and were recently identified by search guru Mike Blumenthal.
Pop-Ups Showing Reviews
Local search expert Andrew Shotland was the first to identify this new feature. For some local results, like this one, a pop-up is showing up when you click the link for "# of reviews" link, rather than sending you off to the Google+ Local page as was the case in the past.
As Shotland notes, this might be a test of some sort, and it doesn't appear to be universal, but this could mean significant things for the future of Google+ Local (less incentive for people to visit your Google+ Local page, for example, but all the more reason for you to have great reviews).
Here's a screenshot of the pop-up:
Filter by Ratings in the Carousel
The other new feature allows you to filter search results by ratings in the Carousel. This may not have a significant impact on our industry at this point (we've written about the new Google Carousel before, and how it's not currently affecting service area businesses but could in the future).
The new feature allows you to filter businesses by ratings without leaving the Carousel at all. In the case of restaurants, you can filter by a number of other factors as well.
Now, neither of these updates is, by itself, anything to write home about or drastically change your marketing direction for. But they both appear to be a part of a more concerted effort on the part of Google to change the way people interact with their search results:
1) Google Likes Reviews
Well, yeah, we've all known this for a long time. But with these new developments it appears as if reviews will only become more and more important down the road, so you better get to work if you still don't have any Google reviews.
Here are a couple resources to help you get better reviews for your home performance business:
- Is Review Building the New Link Building?
- How to Deal with Negative of Fake Reviews
- How to Get Good Reviews
- Reviews, Trust, and the New Reality of Internet Marketing
2) Google Wants People to Stay on Google.com
This second point is a little more interesting. It looks like Google is making an effort to offer people the information they need right in the search results, rather than sending them to an external page to get the information they need.
This could be a significant change in the way search engines work: rather than sending people to your Google+ Local page or your website to get your phone number or read about your services, Google is offering users the information they're looking for within the search results. If you want to make the most of this change, focus on great basic SEO, a strong Google+ Local page and a solid library of authentic reviews.
Keep in touch, we'll keep you posted.