Google is once again changing the way local search results appear, with a major update that could affect local businesses in a huge way.
At the time, Google was testing local business cards with a small number of local businesses. Google confirmed in a recent Hangout, however, that cards will be rolled out to thousands of local businesses soon (probably in the next 30 days).
I should mention that information about the expanded roll out of Google local business cards is scarce right now. Mike Blumenthal says Google confirmed to him
in a Google Hangout that the company would be expanding the test in the next month.
What are Google local business cards?
Local business cards are blocks of information that appear in search results for certain searches. Cards are linked to something called Google Posts, which allows businesses to post information, photos or updates directly in Google search results.
Cards can contain a status update (similar to something you’d post on social media) or an image. Some appear as a carousel of images and text, and searchers can click right and left arrows to see more images or text.
Cards also give searchers the option to share the information via email or social media.
Because cards appear directly in Google search results, they are extremely quick to load. Businesses also have control of the text they post directly to the search results, making local business cards an extremely valuable digital marketing tactic.
For example, bridal consignment shop My Special Day
uses local business cards to post updates about new gowns directly to search results.
As you see in the image, the cards are made to be shared across email and social media, augmenting your business's social media strategy by allowing you to post content that is easy to share directly into the search results.
For now, local business cards are rolling out in the US, Brazil and India. According to Mike Blumenthal, they show up in branded searches (searches for the business’s name) rather than industry or location specific searches.
However, it’s possible that cards could appear in less specific searches in the future. For instance, if local business cards become popular enough, it’s possible that searchers would see cards appearing in search results for searches like “restaurant near me.”
Why are local business cards rolling out now?
The March test of Google local business cards seems to have gone well, and Google must have received good feedback from the businesses that have been using cards. Otherwise, Google wouldn’t be expanding the option to post directly to search results to other businesses.
What do local business cards mean for local search?
When the initial test of local business cards was launched in March, local search experts were speculating that this could kill local SEO
, but it will take more than just a test of local business cards to take down local search.
While this could be huge for the businesses that use it, giving them the option to communicate with searchers directly in search results, your local search marketing
strategy is just as important as ever.
Even if you do use local business cards, you will still want to make sure your information such as NAP (name, address and phone number) is consistent across directories and place pages, since consumers will need to know how to find your business after reading your cards.
As you see in the below image, the local business card displays within search results, but on the right, the graph shows contact information as well as business hours and a link to read the business's reviews. This means local business cards can work in conjunction with your local search efforts to create content that is made to be shared and get local consumers into your business.
What does this mean for local businesses?
It is more important than ever that local businesses stay current on search updates and trends.
This could be a game changer for businesses that use cards, since they can post updates (such as new product information or weekly specials) directly to Google search results. This will make it easier than ever for a local consumer to find all the information they need about your business without ever having to leave the search results page.
RevLocal Director of Client Strategy, David Jackson
, stressed the importance of local businesses creating an adaptable local search marketing strategy in order to thrive in today's ever-changing digital world.
“This is an exciting opportunity to create custom content
and bring additional visibility to your business online such as upcoming
events, promotions or special offers. The complex and ever changing nature of local search marketing requires an ongoing strategy if you want to engage and
influence your local audience,” Jackson said.
Though we can't say for certain, it looks like your Google My Business account will have to be verified and linked to your Google Posts page. According to the Google Posts homepage, "verified individuals and organizations can now communicate with text, images and videos directly on Google."
This is great news for RevLocal clients, as we make sure our clients' Google My Business pages are verified and optimized for local searches. That means you're one step closer to having custom content of your own posted directly to Google search results as a RevLocal customer.
How can businesses sign up to take part in the local business cards test?
Businesses that are interested in posting directly to search results can sign up here
. There’s no information on how long the wait list is or whether or not new businesses will be accepted at this time, though.