Google’s Latest Changes for Local Business Searches

Dear Empowerkit Customer,

There are a few very important changes to how Google deals with searches for your local business.


How your business appears in a Google search

I’m sure you’ve noticed a map appear underneath the Google search results from time to time.

When you see a map appear in search results, it means that Google knows that you’re looking for a business in a particular area.

Even if you don’t put a particular area in your search term, Google uses your current location to show these results.

We’ve seen almost all the search terms for local businesses get this treatment.

If you’d like to appear in the map box (many refer to this as the “snack pack”), you must make sure to have a verified Google listing. I’m sure you’ve received multiple emails from our team about this if you don’t already have a verified business listing.

It’s very important to note that the businesses with the most highly rated reviews are the ones that generally show first. So you must make sure your business has many great reviews as well.


Map box

Now let’s talk about the results after the map box.

We’ve seen that the first few pages of Google results are “localized” with their various local business listings using a verified source. This source would preferably be Google via their Google My Business tool, but the data can also come from other sites, such as Yelp.



Let’s say I have a carpet cleaning business. The address I’ve registered with Google is a town just outside of Portland called Tualatin.

If a customer searches for “Carpet Cleaners in Portland” Google will first show results of carpet cleaners with business listings verified in Portland with great reviews.

This happens even though I have a lot of great content optimized for Portland. My domain name could even be “” and it wouldn’t really make much of a difference. I could actually have the best, most optimized site ever and it still wouldn’t make any difference.

Google is looking for websites that represent local businesses in or near that city.


Important notes 

a) Google recognizes a search for a business in a specific area

b) Google knows your current location and provides search results with proximity and quality around you

c) Google looks for businesses that are registered with verification in that area

d) Google will prioritize results that are verified there first and slowly expand it’s radius as you start going further through it’s results.

e) Google shows results that have better reviews on their verified listings

One more thing. The more local business directories that confirm your location and quality, the better you’ll do. This is why all our latest backlinks efforts have gone towards local business directories.


The great news is that:

a) If you have great reviews, you’re going to do very well on both the map results and also the main search results.

b) You’re now going to get organic visits from nearby neighborhoods, cities, towns, and counties that may not even be optimized for on your website.


What can you do on your side?

a) Make sure your business listing is verified on both Google and Yelp

b) Get your customers to review you on Google and Yelp

If you’ve taken the steps above, it means that we can now do further optimization work on our side. Once you’re in the mix of results that Google considers relevant, we can do further optimization work on your content to bump you up in the results. So you could move from a 3rd page for example to the 1st since you have more optimized content for the areas near you.


How to measure

We’ve written before about how the idea of “ranking” for a term is not relevant anymore but that concepts have become even more irrelevant now.

Your results are completely different based on your exact location. Because consumers conduct searches in more complex phrases, most aren’t searching for exactly “carpet cleaning portland”. They may search for “carpet cleaner coupon natural no chemicals” for example.  Empowerkit’s focus on content will gather those long-tail terms.

We measure our progress for your websites by total organic visits per month.

This metric measures how many relevant, organic visits have been sent to your site.

Unfortunately, we cannot see the exact search terms that resulted in your hit because Google changed their security policies. We can only see a very small sample of these data.


Using this sample, however, we can still be sure that your website is coming up on relevant search terms.

To be clear, we do track rankings in general to be sure you’re in the right range, but the exact number has become irrelevant.

If you have any questions on the information above, please let us know.