Earlier this summer Google introduced an algorithm specifically designed to improve local search results. At first it was only rolled out in the US, but now there’s evidence to suggest it has been rolled out to other parts of the world.
An SEO in the UK first brought up on Google+ that he saw major changes with his local SEO clients, which sparked a discussion amongst other professionals saying they were noticing the same thing.
BrightLocal also reports to have noticed “significant volatility” in Maps results in the UK, Canada, and Australia. The local search company provided a comparison between two sets of old and new local search results in the UK further demonstrating that there have in fact been significant changes.
One of the key differences is the maps radius has tightened for local searches. Other differences can be seen in the way search results are ordered, with some SEOs reporting that their clients have been moved higher in the rankings while others have been moved a several positions lower.
Another signature change to come along with Google’s local search algorithm is a reduction in local packs, going from 7 listings down to 3. Searchers in the UK are reporting to see such a reduction, but as a Canadian I can report that I have yet to see this change. This would suggest the rollout is further along in the UK than it is in Canada.
Going forward, you can expect that local rankings in the UK, Canada, and Australia will be more impacted by signals like domain authority, inbound links, and other factors that typically affect local search results.
A reduction in the amount of local pack listings means the local search landscape will be more competitive than before. If you run a local business, or have local businesses as clients, be prepared to be on top of your game in 2015.