Changes to Google Search

By Adam Baer

In 2014, Google merged its social networking platform, Google+, with Google Maps and Google Places, resulting in Google My Business.

The purpose was to give businesses a platform that allowed their business information (name, address, hours and phone number) to be readily available to those who were searching for them, across any device, on the Google network.

Google My Business profiles include integration with the Google maps system, which allows searchers to get driving directions to businesses directly from their mobile devices. Google+ reviews were also integrated into search result listings.

In September 2015, Google made a noticeable change to the desktop search results (See photo 1). Google removed the links that gave users access to a brands Google+ page. They also removed the Google+ reviews. In their place is a more streamlined view of one to three stacked results showing map locations, a link that brings you to the corresponding company’s website, and directions to the nearest location based on the search term. (See photo 2.)

It’s important to distinguish how these changes affect desktop and mobile device search results. Google will recognize the type of device you’re on and will provide a button that links to your website on a desktop computer or laptop and a click-to-call button on mobile devices. Search results on both devices include directions to your business. With the adoption of mobile devices still on the rise, businesses can expect changes like these as Google tries to work out what works best when it comes to how businesses interact with the customers that are searching for them.

What does this mean to financial institutions? At the moment, keeping the status quo is generally recommended. If you are actively managing a Google+ page, don’t abandon it. Continue to engage with your customers. There is still value in your content, not only from a branding and engagement standpoint but for search engine optimization (SEO) as well. The more content you have available, the more information Google has about your brand to index, which is critical for SEO. Google still owns the search engine market and the more integrated you are across each of their platforms, the higher you’ll rank in the search results.

This is important when you take into account the limited space users have on their mobile devices: The more you can do to make yourself visible, the more traffic you’ll get. The changes Google has implemented make it easier for customers to find you, but the segments that have been removed are still relevant. People who have interacted with your Google+ page in some manner are much more likely to see your content in search results. Google also shows the latest Google+ post in searches for people who are logged in; other social sites do not have this visibility.

With the adoption of mobile devices still on the rise, businesses can expect changes like these as Google works out what works best on how they connect your business to the customers you serve.

Want to know if your locations are verified on Google? Here’s how to check:

  1. Visit https://plus.google.com/
  2. Enter your business name.
  3. Select your business name from the list. Those locations that are verified will have small check mark. (See photo 3.) Unverified pages will be missing the check mark (See photo 4).

 

Adam Baer is the digital campaign analyst at Pannos Marketing, based in Bedford, N.H. Pannos Marketing is a full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce and website solutions for financial institutions.  Email: abaer@pannosmarketing.com; LinkedIn: Adam Baer

PHOTO 1: A view of Google desktop search results prior to September 2015.

PHOTO 1: A view of Google desktop search results prior to September 2015.

 

PHOTO 2: A view of Google desktop search results after September 2015. Note the more streamlined view of results, showing map locations, a link to the corresponding company’s website and directions to the nearest location of the search term.

PHOTO 2: A view of Google desktop search results after September 2015. Note the more streamlined view of results, showing map locations, a link to the corresponding company’s website and directions to the nearest location of the search term.

 

PHOTO 3: An example of a bank whose locations have been verified by Google. Note the small check mark to the right of the bank logo.

PHOTO 3: An example of a bank whose locations have been verified by Google. Note the small check mark to the right of the bank logo.

 

 PHOTO 4: An example of a bank location that has not been verified by Google. Note that there is no check mark to the right of the logo.


PHOTO 4: An example of a bank location that has not been verified by Google. Note that there is no check mark to the right of the logo.

 

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