Now that the dust from Google’s new algorithm changes is clearing, webmasters have been looking at the outcomes of these changes. And unfortunately for small to medium sized businesses, it looks as if the task of keeping at the top end of Google’s search result pages will be harder still.
An obvious consequence seems to be that local directory sites like Yelp, Top Table and TripAdvisor are gaining more visibility in Google’s search results.
Yelp had previously accused Google of manipulating its search results to show Google’s own local listings and content ahead of Yelp’s, even when the searcher had included the word ‘Yelp’ alongside their search query. Yelp reported that if a web user searched for ‘Gary Danko yelp’ (Gary Danko being a San Francisco restaurant) Google returned the restaurant’s official website first, along with links to Google + content.
Google seems to have resolved this problem with its latest changes, which tie local results more closely to standard web ranking signals. Yelp pages are displayed first when the user adds yelp to their query, with two other Yelp URLs showing up before the restaurant’s official website. Other directory sights are also enjoying higher results, with review listings much higher than official websites. In some cases, a restaurant’s official website did not show up until page three of the search results.
This may be because larger sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor have stronger SEO signals than smaller, individual business websites. It looks like those putting together a website to get a business noticed on Google will have to rethink their strategies in order to get higher up the search rankings.