This week we were introduced to a couple of useful new Google AdWords features and a new study came out about local search showing how much Google favors its own results.
Full details about each of these headlines in this week’s SEO news roundup!
Latest SEO News – Week Ending 8/28/2015
Google AdWords Gets Structured Snippet Extensions
Now you can highlight even more aspects of your business using AdWords ads at no additional charge. This is similar to the dynamic structured snippets that came to AdWords earlier this year, with the difference being that you can customize the displayed information.
Dynamic structured snippets are filled in automatically using information Google finds on your website. With these new structured snippet extensions you can customize what gets displayed.
You can choose to highlight various aspects of your business, such as amenities offered, product types you deal with or brands you carry. From there you can specify the individual values.
So, for example, if you’re an office equipment company you can select ‘brands’ as the thing you want to highlight, and then you can enter values like ‘Canon, Xerox, Konica Minolta’ etc.
This extension has a limit of 25 characters and is available now for English campaigns only. For more information see Google’s announcement.
Home Service Ads Come to AdWords
Google’s new home services ad program is now available in AdWords Express. The home services ad program allows plumbers, locksmiths, cleaners, and handyworkers to advertise their services with a brand new ad unit.
Right now, these ad units are only available in the San Francisco Bay area, but The Verge reports that this is the start of a larger effort to compete with other companies in the local home services space.
In addition, Google is making every effort to advertise only legitimate service providers. The company screens all applicants using third party background checks. Listings will be displayed in an ad block at the top of the search results page when someone searches locally for home services.
If you happen to live in the San Francisco Bay area and would like to use these new ad units to promote your services, you can fill out this form.
Google Dominates Local Search
Google introduced a new way to display local search results a few weeks ago (which we covered in this blog post) reducing the local 7 pack to a much smaller local 3 pack.
A new study has come out showing Google’s new local 3 pack is so dominant in search results that you’ll almost always see it in the number one position.
The new local 3 pack apparently shows up in the first spot for 93% of searches — compared to the old 7 pack which showed up first only 25% of the time.
This is important to note because if your goal is to rank for local searches your biggest competitor right now is Google. Businesses showing up in that local pack are going to get noticed way before any of the organic search results.
How can you show up in the local pack? Unfortunately, there is no exact formula. Most certainly you need a verified Google Maps listing and a verified Google+ page for your business.
This will make you eligible to show up in the local pack, but which businesses get picked to show up for a certain query is dependent on too many factors to predict. Anything could come into play like the searcher’s personal search history, their location, the device they’re searching on, and so on.
At a bare minimum, make sure you have a verified Google Maps listing and work on building some local authority online.
Wrapping it Up
If you’re an AdWords user you have even more ways to sell your products and services and if you’re competing in local search you’re at the mercy of Google’s local pack.
Is it fair for Google to rank local search results this way? On the surface it doesn’t sound fair, but it’s too early to tell what effect it will actually have on business and search traffic.