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Interesting article on Search Engine Journal about the importance of business reviews. Your business listing is prompted up with more positive reviews which is especially important for local area search. Google Local Search Study: Businesses on First Page Have an Avg. 4.4 Star Rating Businesses ranking on the first page of Google local search results have an average review rating of 4.42 stars. This information was revealed in a recent study from BrightLocal which examines Google reviews and how they relate to local rankings. A high star rating was found to strongly correlate with better rankings in Google search. Businesses ranking in the top 3 positions are more likely to have an average star rating of 4-5 stars (64% of businesses have 4-5 stars). Out of those ranking in positions 7-10 59% of were found to have a 4-5 star rating. Only 20% of businesses in positions 1-3 were found to have no Google reviews, compared to 26% of businesses in positions 7-10. Those numbers stress the importance of having a favorable star rating when it comes to ranking well in Google local search. Positive reviews send signals to Google that the business is trustworthy and provides a good experience for customers. Therefore, Google will be more likely to direct people toward those businesses when searching for what they offer. Other Key Findings from the Study Only 5% of businesses have an average star rating below 3 stars Photographers, alternative therapy businesses, and marketing services have the highest average star ratings Senior living services, car dealerships, and hotels have the lowest average star ratings Bars, restaurants, and hotels are the industries that are most likely to have Google Reviews Accountants are the least likely industry to have reviews on Google Results from this study are based on the analysis of 93,000 businesses’ Google reviews in 26 industries. Another recent study from Moz further illustrates the growing importance of Google My Business signals in local search results. Article: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-local-search-study-businesses-on-first-page-have-an-avg-4-4-star-rating/279895/
Google has been rolling out Mobile-first indexing and many webmasters received an email similar to the one further down informing them that this anticipated change is now here. But what does "Mobile-first indexing enabled" actually mean and what impact can it have on your website? First off, lets start with saying that nowadays, if your website does not render well on a mobile screen, it's time to update. It used to be OK to just design a website that looked great on desktop sized screens. Then, as time moved on with mobile phones gaining traction, there was a race to develop a "mobile-friendly" theme as an addition to a website, where a visitor who was browsing from a mobile device was redirected to a different and condensed version suitable for smaller phone screens. Today, it really is no longer optimal to have a different version for mobile screens and websites need to be fully responsive and adjust accordingly to the screen size they are being viewed on. Screen sizes are now categorized into mainly desktop, tablet, and phone, with variations of minimum and maximum screen sizes where your web designer can adjust elements to show and not show, depending on what type of device is being used to view your website. If you have analytics installed on your website, you have probably noticed a trend over the past few years where mobile screen sizes are picking up traction. In some cases we see it as a 50/50 split between desktop and mobile, some sites are even higher on mobile. So to not design a website with this in mind, is a mistake. Google is now indexing and displaying search results differently, depending on how well your site is built for mobile screens. What they are essentially saying is that you may get different results when searching on Google from a smart phone then from a desktop and Google is going to rank websites that render well on smart phone screen sizes higher than those that don't. This is where all those outdated websites will start to lose organic traffic. Here's Google's official statement from their email to some website owners and webmasters affected: Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they're looking for. Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have historically used the desktop version of your site's content, which can cause issues for mobile searchers when the desktop version differs from the mobile version. Here's the actual copy of the email that we received for our website: Google is now going to use your mobile site for ranking purposes and time is running out if your website does not have a good mobile version available. Fortunately for us, we are prepared and so is AutoShopOwner because we use responsive technology and coding that adjusts to screen sizes accordingly. You can test out your website here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly If your website isn't mobile ready, contact your webmaster and get it updated ASAP. If you need website services, you can reach out to us for a cost effective solution
Google has a great informational page that outlines best practices to increase your website/business ranking in search results. Can’t find your business? Improve your info. You may find that your business doesn’t appear for relevant searches in your area. To maximize how often your customers see your business in local search results, complete the following tasks in Google My Business. Providing and updating business information in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Search and Maps. Enter complete data Local results favor the most relevant results for each search, and businesses with complete and accurate information are easier to match with the right searches. Make sure that you’ve entered all of your business information in Google My Business, so customers know more about what you do, where you are, and when they can visit you. Provide information like (but not limited to) your physical address, phone number, and category. Make sure to keep this information updated as your business changes. Learn how to edit your business information Verify your location(s) Verify your business locations to give them the best opportunity to appear for users across Google products, like Maps and Search. Learn more about verification Keep your hours accurate Entering and updating your opening hours, including special hours for holidays and special events, lets potential customers know when you’re available and gives them confidence that when they travel to your location, it will be open. Learn how to edit your hours Manage and respond to reviews Interact with customers by responding to reviews that they leave about your business. Responding to reviews shows that you value your customers and the feedback that they leave about your business. High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’s visibility and increase the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click to write reviews. Learn more Add photos Adding photos to your listings shows people your goods and services, and can help you tell the story of your business. Accurate and appealing pictures may also show potential customers that your business offers what they’re searching for. Learn more How Google determines local ranking Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results. Relevance Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches. Distance Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location. Prominence Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results. Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization. There's no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone. Source: https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en
We all know that Google rules the internet in terms of searches that drive traffic to websites. ASO alone receives 75-80% of its traffic from Google, then Bing. So ranking in search results is very important for website traffic. That being said, Google is now going to put weight on the "mobile friendliness" of websites and rank those that have a mobile layout, better. Starting April 21st, Google will use its new algorithm to re-rank results based on how well a website renders on mobile screens. So if your website does not have a mobile layout, get with the webmaster or company that designs your site and make sure you have a mobile version working properly. Below is a recent post from Google this past Feb. Source: Link Webmaster level: all When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. Today, we’re announcing two important changes to help users discover more mobile-friendly content: 1. More mobile-friendly websites in search resultsStarting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices. To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages: If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test. If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report. 2. More relevant app content in search resultsStarting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site. If you have questions about either mobile-friendly websites or app indexing, we’re always happy to chat in our Webmaster Help Forum.