Google Local results have become more sophisticated.
Google has collected more information about businesses while at the same time improving its algorithm to better understand searcher intent. This has led to a proliferation of different kinds of local results that can turn up in a search.
This difference in results impacts the number of customers that choose your business over a competitor. Below you will see examples of searches for a company named Kawartha Dairy, that are all very similar but bring up very different results, so keep your eye out.
Let’s take a look at one company and the various searches that are displayed depending on the search query.
The Basic Google Knowledge Graph
Performing a search for a specific company (branded search) will most likely return the Knowledge Graph for that company.
I say ‘most likely’ because there are cases that won’t prompt a Knowledge Graph, as detailed below:
The Corporate Knowledge Panel
Searches for large companies often result in a branded Knowledge Panel. This type of knowledge card has no local information on it. It will usually pull text from Wikipedia with a basic organization description. Companies need to claim this knowledge card separately from the local listing ones.
If the algorithm cannot determine what a searcher is looking for, it may return a result with a ‘See results about’ section, which provides a very short description and link to the larger corporate knowledge card.
Sometimes, if a large company has a local presence, both knowledge cards will be displayed simultaneously, one above the other.
Location Knowledge Cards
If the business's name contains a location place name, the algorithm may default to showing the knowledge card for the region if it has no other information to gauge the searcher's intent.
Multi-Location Three-Pack Results
If there is more than one location of the same business nearby, Google may display a list of the closest ones if the algorithm can not interpret the best location. Notice how they are labeled with A, B, C to differentiate the results from a normal three-pack result without labels.
Regular Map Three-Pack Results
When the algorithm determines that a search is not being done for a specific company, it will return a regular three-pack result. The companies listed will be determined by the normal ranking factors of prominence, relevance, and distance.
However, what the Google algorithm sees as a branded and non-branded search can sometimes be unpredictable.
Notice the change of one letter in the two searches below, the extra ‘s’ on the Kawartha brand name. This makes the algorithm show two completely different results: a single Knowledge Panel and a normal three-pack result.
Google Local Search Variations – Where Does it End?
With the exception of the last search for ‘ice cream’, the first seven searches are all very similar.
Let’s retake a look at them:
Kawartha dairy company
Kawarthas dairy company
Kawartha ice cream
Kawarthas ice cream
Every single one of these Google searches produced a different local result.
To make matters even more confusing, these results were only desktop result examples. Searches on a mobile device would have their own results and look completely different.
How Important are Local Knowledge Card Variations To Your Business?
Holding a single Knowledge Panel card for a search query can make a huge difference for a business. This is especially true for companies that have keywords or locations in their name.
Let’s take a look at Kansas City Life Insurance Company…
These two searches have all the same words. However, the order has been changed:
Life insurance company Kansas City
Kansas City life insurance company
One search results in a local map pack with three choices, and the other search results in a Knowledge Panel for a single company.
Now imagine if the company held the Knowledge Panel card for both queries. That potentially drives much more traffic directly to the company, bypassing competitors.
Or the opposite, how much business might it lose if the company lost the single Knowledge Panel and Google decided to show the normal map pack results displaying three choices to those searchers who use that keyword phrase?
Situations like this play out across millions of businesses every day, each with its own keywords and search results. Do you want to leave it to the Google algorithm to decide what to display?
Awareness of these nuances and understanding how to influence Google results is our job as local SEO experts. Not everything in local SEO can be automated, but much of it can be.
That’s why we’ve built our tools here at dbaPlatform; we help automate Google My Business, leaving you more time and resources to tackle the more challenging aspects of your work.
About the Author
Yan created Local Falcon, the original Google Maps grid tracking system. Currently the VP of Product & Growth at dbaPlatform and Senior SEO at Toronto-based, SterlingSky.
When not in front of a computer, he works on a house project or coaches soccer. Connect with him on Twitter @YanGilbertSEO