Google is about to change the game for local businesses…

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Google is an inescapable force today.   The internet search giant is the world leader in search, contextual advertising, and other ventures.   You can’t ignore its importance to your business.

A few years ago, Google introduced Google+, a social-media platform similar to Facebook.  Although it was never specified, many people assumed that being active on Google+ would help improve their search results.

Google+ hasn’t taken off the way Google had hoped, but in the meantime, the behemoth has been busy.  Renaming as Alphabet to enable advancement of various agenda, Google is nothing if not ambitious.

Now there is a new offering on the horizon for Google.  Still in beta phase, this new search engine results page feature doesn’t yet have an official name, but it’s so important that any local business should sit up and take notice.

Its nickname is Google Local Business Cards, and it’s powered by Google Posts.

Unlike the implied benefit of Google+, this new SERP offering is upfront about letting businesses boost their placement on search results.  In fact, Local Business Cards goes even further:  With this new feature, you don’t have to assume that Google will pick up your best keywords and tags.  With Local Business Cards, businesses can post content directly into Google’s search results.  Not only that, but the content is highlighted as visually robust scrollable items – looking very much like business cards.

This is a game-changer.

Here’s why:

  • First of all, as the name implies, this feature is relevant to local businesses.
  • Right now, there are two common types of local-business searches.  A consumer can search by business type, or specific business name.
  • In either case, most companies should have results on the first page of an appropriately-targeted local business search, especially if basic SEO has been covered, including GoogleMyBusiness.
  • Most of the top results of local-business searches are from GoogleMyBusiness, but there are also a lot of organic SEO results as well.

With the new Google Local Business Cards, almost the entire results shown from such a search would be actual content presented by the business itself, or Google.   Content is taken from Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other social media in a visually-arresting manner.  Unless you have a vigorous online presence, you will suffer.  If you have an online presence but are not very active, you will suffer.   Instead of getting a fair amount of results from traditional players in the local organic space, under this new service, the more engaging Google Local Business Cards will grab all the eyeballs.

Once again, companies that understand who to use the internet effectively will benefit.  Companies that use social media to build actual relationships with their communities – their customers, their employees and their industry as a whole – will benefit.  Companies with a strong brand identity will benefit.  That usually means companies big enough to have specialized staff devoted to social media & other online promotions.

You need that staff, because the thing that builds online relationships is regularly-updated, high-quality content.  If you can post information that your target finds useful or entertaining, and that reflects well on your brand values, you can benefit.  Publishing multimedia content frequently to a business website, as well as to Google+, is one of the most important factors that Google will use when deciding who gets the coveted Local Card real estate on a results page.

Change happens.  But if you have the right information, you can make it work for you.  Frequent, relevant, useful, entertaining, sharable, high-quality content, along with carefully chosen multimedia, shared with a smart strategy, can help your local business compete.  Make sure you’ve got the edge.

Jason Houston
Jason Houston
Jason Houston is a web developer at Complete Web based on the island of Nantucket Massachusetts. He actively monitors the status and health of over 20 accounts to maintain position in search and to ensure each business is doing everything possible to increase revenue. Feel free to ask Jason a question at: jason@mycompleteweb.net