This was much anticipated, and I can confirm that as of Feb 22 all SearchStations have seen no side ads since. But I’d like to concentrate on two things; a) what local businesses need to know, and b) how this particular issue is a great barometer indicating who in this business is just blogging (asleep at the wheel) for the sake of SEO, and who is awake.

The later does not take much analysis except to say I’m amazed by what little substance these noise makers in search engine land actually produce. I looked though dozens of articles “blogs” and 95% are absolutely empty dribble echoing the headline – worthless wastes of time. Do something else will ya?

What people want to know is not that it happened, but “what does it mean to me?”, the local business. So here are the bullets:

What is not new is the fact that last year we became acutely aware that mobile search had surpassed the desktop (non-mobile shall we call it?). I think you’re leading a sheltered life if you have not been to local hangouts (bars, restaurant, malls, movie theaters) and witnessed that the majority of people are more preoccupied with whatever they are doing on their mobile device than what is going on around them. That’s a fact. So you have to be there.

  • The #1 spot is what catches the fish on a mobile device. So this point has not changed so much as its now not an optional PPC rule. We have to get that #1 spot now regardless of what we think our shopper is doing. Google has forced the issue.
  • Therefore, the competition for the top 4 spots has just moved up a big notch. Therefore the CPC (cost per click) is going up.
  • That also means this change favors the larger members in their niche. ( re. the national chain flower shops will crush the mom & pop shops, the auto dealer groups will crush the single roof tops ).
  • This may not be permanent on desktops because Google experiments a lot. They may loose ad revenue as smaller players get squeezed out. But the fact remains – mobile will always be more important.

The bonus point which only one blog I read pointed out:

  • The “Card” or Knowledge Graph (or whatever it will be renamed by Google tomorrow) is the key to your online success. You can’t buy a Card from Google yet, but the Card gets ALL THE CLICKS.

Google servers up those cards only in local searches, and only when its 100% sure its the right thing to server up to the user searching – so its pretty hard to achieve. My experience is that a business can get an average of 4 keywords to produce a card, but rarely does a business have more that 8 keywords that produce a card. (I’ve seen 14 max.)

Not coincidentally, Google is making the rounds organizing local business meetups called “Lets Put Our Cities on the Map“. This is what you should be doing if you don’t already know and understand everything in this article. Here is the link

Not so long ago Google rolled out a program aiming in the same direction by enlisting people interns to update maps called Local Guides.

Altogether these separate initiatives confirms the direction Google has chosen and its not a temporary thing.

  • Its about accurate business location data! To get a Card, forget about all that other SEO stuff for the moment and clean-up your location data wherever it may be found online.

If you do understand everything in this article and have the time to DIY, then I suggest getting starting here with MOZ Local.