What just happened to Google Local Search?

Google changed the rules again… in their favor! Since their ultimate responsibility is to get returns for their shareholders, they just pissed off about 4 to 7 million business owners. Google Maps or Google Places or local.Google.com used to show 7 places on Google search results pages (also known as SERPs.)

Starting on August 6th right around midnight, they implemented a redesign to Google searches displayed for any local area search. Now there are only 3 spots showing and you have to click a MORE button to see any more listings. You will notice that the top half of the page now is reserved for ads… so much for giving the people what they want…now you have to scroll way down to find the organic listings. You will notice another BIG change… no phone numbers…. You’ll have to click to find a phone number! You will also notice that the listings are geo targeted to the proximity of the searcher’s location and the offices in the area. How does Google pick the three winners? It’s a combination of organic search, content and REVIEWS. Google’s admitted defeat with their Google + initiative however, you will still need to build your online reputation using Google reviews in order to make it to the top three. Each dot on the map is another search result.

Why is Google doing this? It’s blatantly obvious. Those 4 businesses that got knocked off the 1st page of Google will now need PPC services in order to be visible on the first page of Google. This means we should all go and buy Google stock because they have just guaranteed about 10 billion more dollars to their bottom line. Greedy lipersonalinjurylawyer_001ttle Google just stomped on small businesses and now you either get your organic search improved, grab a bunch of reviews, get listed as the top 3 local businesses or you will wind up paying through the nose for your phone to ring or you’ll be paying thousands of dollars trying to get your phone to ring by paying for billboard space or TV time.

For Personal Injury Attorneys facing lots of competition for business, they will be paying $25 – $100 per click in some areas. Google will tell you, you don’t pay unless someone clicks, which is true. But once someone does click what do they find? If you send prospects to a corporate website, you’ve just wasted your money. It’s down the drain.  Fat chance that 100% percent of your click thru’s are going to pick up the phone and call you. If they are not in the mood to call to you know what questions they are looking for answers for? Do you have a method of collecting their email addresses so you can give them a Guide To …. So they can open a less invasive line of communication with you? Honest to goodness, I sat with a business owner this week that had spent a LOT of money on glitzy website that did not have a phone number listed on the first top half of the web page or “above the fold.”

If they do call, who do you have answering the phone? A receptionist? You may have just spend $500 to get that phone to ring (5 clicks) and what is your receptionist going to do… Tell your prospect… “Sorry Mr ___________ is not available, he is in court today.”

In 90% of cases I’d say that is exactly what happens.

If you are paying for the phone to ring, may I make a teeny-tiny suggestion? Have a script prepared that is going to engage the prospect, with a goal of setting up free telephone consultation or a walk-in appointment. Have a stat tracker on every phone call and know what you are paying for when you pay Google.

Whoever answers the phone in your office has to realize the value of a prospect calling in to make an inquiry. They’d better be friendly and warm and helpful to the prospect who needs help with a painful situation.

It matters little what your business is, you are there to provide solutions to people who need help. Have a “sales funnel” established that answers your prospects needs and turns them into raving fans who will tell all their friends and associates about you. Have a script for new callers. Have a free guide to email to them that will exhibit your expertise. Do all these mundane things and you will have a thriving business.

 

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