The all-powerful search engine Google has recently rolled out a new filtering feature that allows users to significantly narrow down their local search results. Before Google introduced this new feature, a keyword search within a local area could generate hundreds of recommendations. The filter now allows users to only see businesses that match their preferred star rating, and the results can be narrowed down further based on hours of operation. While the new filtering system is more convenient for consumers, what does this mean for business owners? Let’s take a quick look at Google’s new filtering feature, and explain why local businesses need to be paying close attention.
A seemingly simple keyword search can result in an overwhelming list of recommendations, especially in highly competitive areas— “Dentist in San Diego” for example. You’ll notice, however, that a pulldown menu above the search results allows the user to designate a minimum star rating, from as low as 2 stars, all the way up to 4.5 stars. After a star rating is selected, only the businesses that meet the quota will be displayed.
We’ve also made a surprising discovery that when the word “Best” is included in the query, in this case “Best Dentist in San Diego,” the search engine intuitively sets the filter to a minimum rating of 4 stars!
What does this mean for your business? This means that now is the time to really start focusing on maintaining a positive star rating on Google. Having no stars at all is just as bad as having a one-star rating, and with the new filtering system, even businesses with a respectable 3-star rating can be rendered nonexistent to the average consumer.
The second component of the filter that business owners should be aware of is the consumer’s ability to sort their results based on hours of availability. The user can now choose a specific day and time that’s most convenient for them, including an option to only show businesses that are “Open Now.” Needless to say, if the hours on your Google Business Page are incorrect or not displayed at all, you can be sure those consumers are going elsewhere.
Google’s new segmented search, although subtle, is a message to business owners that the user-generated ratings are not to be taken lightly. If this trend continues, failure to actively monitor your Google Business listing can result in decreased revenue. By maintaining a star rating of at least 4 stars, and by providing accurate information on your listing, you have a better shot at becoming (at least in the eyes of the all-powerful Google algorithm) the “Best” in your local area.