At the beginning of this year, Google launched a new way to search for local businesses without using keywords. The experiment focussed on local search ads and was first spotted in February by a select few users. So, what’s the latest Google test about and what could it mean for businesses?
The experiment was offered to a few advertisers and aims to promote verified business locations in local search results without using keywords. As keywords have been the basis of Google search and the focus of SEO campaigns since the birth of the search engine, it’s a departure from the way Google ads are usually structured and optimised. To understand what the experiment and potential changes could mean for local businesses, we need to take a look at how they work now.
How do local search ads currently work?
Bricks and mortar advertisers using Google to drive traffic have one key tool to use, local extensions. The extensions are what give potential customers the extra information they need, such as opening hours and telephone number, to get in touch. With current local search ads, the extensions are combined with keywords to bring up relevant ads that users can view on a map, helping to identify the best option for them.
What’s different with the experimental local search ads?
So, without those critical keywords, how does the new experiment connect users with ads that are relevant to them? It uses the Google My Business information instead, focussing on location and category to bring up ads that should be of interest. This change will help businesses to create more of a distinction between local and traditional campaigns, as well as focus on local traffic.
Of course, at present, this is still in the experiment stage and whether Google will choose to roll it out in full remains to be seen.
Why the test put a focus on Google My Business
While Google hasn’t made these changes available to everyone yet, they do highlight the importance of Google My Business and why utilising the latest updates, such as business descriptions and listing service offers, should be considered a top priority for anyone that wants to tap into local search volumes.
Will Google become keyword-less? It certainly seems as though its something that the search engine giant is toying with as a way for local adverts to gain more traction with their local market. Whether or not it catches on remains to be seen.