When searching for nearby services via ‘near me’ queries recently, I found that the Google local pack is filtering the listings by default to those with 4 or more stars! This appears to be the case if the results have a high saturation of local businesses (all with online reviews).
Sometimes, even the most subtle of changes to Google’s search results can have a massive impact on strategy.
Over the past couple of years, Google has amped up their local search results. From Google My Business Listings to the Local Pack, Google is trying to put small businesses on the map, and make it easier for users to find useful local information.
Back in December, they added the ability to sort the local pack results by the aggregate ratings of online reviews. The SEM Post covered this feature with some excellent screen shots.
While performing a daily Google check to see if anything new has been added (Googles not exactly always transparent about updates), I noticed something worth sharing with the Local Search community.
At first, everything seemed the same with a normal “near me” query, as seen below:
I was curious why I wasn’t seeing the new ratings filtering option that The SEMPost had written about back in December.
So on a second “near me” search, I was happy to see it there and working normally. Perhaps the lawyers near me didn’t have any online reviews…
When searching for a nearby service via a ‘near me’ query, I found that if the industry being searched had a high saturation of local businesses (all with online reviews), the default rating would segment by 4 or more stars.
But to take the local search one step further, I checked to see what would happen when I added the context of ‘best’ and here’s the tiny tidbit that was of interest to me.
Notice in the screen shot below, that when using both “best” and “near me,” I was now seeing Google’s local pack had only delivered listings with a 4.0+ rating (based on Google Reviews).
If nothing else, this seems to be an important ‘hack’ for local search specialists.
For a queries that uses “best” and “near me” in a competitive location, businesses will need at least a 4.0 rating to be served in the local pack.
What are some other implications of this small, but impactful change to the local pack?