How to Show Up in Local Search Results?

 

local-search-860x450_cIf you’re having trouble getting your local business’ website to show up in the Google local 3-pack or local search results in general, you’re not alone. The first page of Google’s search results seems to have gotten smaller over the years – the top and bottom of the page are often filled with ads, the local 7-pack was trimmed to a slim 3-pack, and online directories often take up the rest of page one. There is very little room for small local businesses to rank on the first page of Google.

To make matters worse, Google has a local “filter” that can strike a business, causing their listing to drop out of local search results for seemingly no reason – often, literally, overnight. Google’s local filter has been around for a while, but it became more noticeable after the Possum algorithm update, which began filtering out even more businesses from local search results.

If you think about it, this filter is not much different than websites ranking organically in search results: In an ideal world, the best sites win the top spots. However, the Google filter can have a significantly negative impact on local businesses that often rely on showing up in local search results to get customers to their doors.

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How to Stay on Top of Google Algorithm Changes?

Google’s SERPs change every day. Sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s your competitors trying to outrun you, and sometimes it’s Google itself updating its algorithms (John Mueller from Google confirmed that algorithm changes happen on a daily basis).

Because of the rivalry, rankings of different domains change constantly. Everyone is searching for new keywords, developing new strategies, and looking for new backlink placements.

Also, looking at the constant updates, one might say that constant fluctuations have actually become a part of Google’s algorithms.

We have collected a list of the most popular tools used to track Google’s volatility. Or, as Obi-Wan Kenobi might say it, to sense if there is any “disturbance in the Force.”

Tools that track Google SERP volatility

Most of these instruments have been on the market for quite a long time and, unfortunately, do not always keep up with the latest trends.

Two tools that had spikes matching the chatter in the SEO community are SEMrush Sensor and Mozcast. Unfortunately, Mozcast calculates scores one day later so marketers can’t see any changes until the day after the update. One day is a huge period of time that doesn’t allow SEOs to react to the changes fast enough.

At the same time, the SEMrush sensor follows all the changes that occur on SERPs:

  • Mobile and desktop separate scores.
  • Changes in SERP features and on SERPs in general (including unconfirmed algorithm updates).
  • AMP versions and HTTPs website percentages.
  • Your Personal Score (the SERP changes for our own scope of keywords).

All of this is crafted to ensure that the tool really helps to see if there are any important SERP volatility.

At SEMrush, we don’t stop at offering the data on the dashboard. We analyze it further and transform it in the studies and reports that the SEO community can use to make better data-driven decisions.

Below you’ll find the analysis of all Google SERP fluctuations during the last six months. Fasten your seatbelts as the shakeups are getting stronger and stronger.

Breaking News: Google Has Been Doing It for Ages!

The overall volatility rank during the last six months has been constantly growing from an average of 4 in the beginning of April to almost 5.6 by the start of September.

SERP volatility in the US

Some websites survived this September, some didn’t.

SEMrush Sensor detected an unbelievably high score. This means that almost everything has changed on the first page.

The spike was detected in all categories, so not only was the general score insanely high, but SERPs in all categories have suffered. Congratulations to the new winners in search, because if someone loses the top place, someone else gets it.

We also looked at the new top 10, and it turns out that the results in many categories have become more relevant.

SEMrush Sensor

The high volatility detected in separate categories (as depicted on the screenshot) is not accidental – it has grown since we started tracking the data.

SERP volatility for categories

Tracking Google updates, SERP changes, and your positions for relevant keywords is important.

Still, do not forget that white-hat methods are your best and safest strategy. Sooner or later websites with poorly written content, spammy links, trashy ads, and a slow load speed will be penalized, and their competitors will get to higher positions.

Let’s see if we can dig deeper in SEMrush Sensor data and discover some hidden secrets of Google SERPs?

Still Don’t Believe That Changes on SERP Are Happening Daily?

When we looked into the gathered data further, we discovered that the amount of URLs that have been on the same SERP position for a few days in a row is steadily declining (the relative number dropped from 41 percent to 38.5 percent), whereas the share of the ones that changed their position only to bounce back the next day is growing steadily (from an average of 13.2 percent to an average of 14.51 percent).

This confirms that there are a lot of small Google experiments every day.

Ups & Downs

Also, the amount of URLs that have shifted by 3-5 positions is growing steadily, while the 1-2 positions shifts are somewhat in stagnation. But the latter number is still larger than the amount of 3 to 5 position shifts.

Beware: Share of Small Domains in the Top 10 Is Steadily Decreasing

We found another trend that confirms what SEO experts talk about: the bigger the domain is, the easier it will stay in top 10.

In other words, if small domains want to push industry giants aside, they will have to put more effort into optimization, and focus on local search and things like content relevance and link building.

Share of big domains in top-10 on SERP

Conclusion

The changes in Google’s search results are aimed at making them more relevant. So beware of thin or low-quality content, aggressive ads, and poor UX implementation on your website.

Google pays attention to user signals. So make sure the keywords you are targeting are relevant to your content.

And, of course, make sure your website is secure and fast. Otherwise, even random SERP fluctuations won’t get you anywhere close to the first page.

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