In recent years local targeting has given SME’s the opportunity to compete with national brands able to put big budgets into building a big online presence. With the release of the Pigeon algorithm in July 2014 Google improved SERPs by returning results based on the users distance from a service.

Some time later, in August 2015 Google shook up local SERPs again by reducing the number of places listings from 7 to 3.

 

Google Map Listings

With these developments it means that if you are not physically located near to an area you are going to struggle to rank for relative local terms. For example a plumber with a physical address in Colchester is unlikely to rank for “Plumbers Ipswich”.

However on Wednesday Google announced at SMX Advanced they are going to replace one of these snack pack listings with a paid listing.

 

Current Vs New Local Pack

This further reduction in organic places listings mean businesses are going to have to work harder to ensure their sites are optimised for local SERPs if they want to show in the local snack pack.

However this also raises the opportunity for business which operate in different towns and cities without having a physical presence in every city.

At the moment Google have not said when they are going to roll this out but speculation is very soon.

Watch this space and if you need help raising your local presence get in touch with a member of our team today!