Google recently did another update to their algorithm and this one was called “Google Pigeon”.
This most recent update could greatly impact the rankings of Franchisors franchisee listings in Google search results and therefore sales revenue due to the fact that Google will be showing fewer “pack results”.
In a recent article done by Mod Girl Marketing called “top 8 ways googles pigeon algorithm changed local seo”. The very first of the 8 reasons identified discussed how franchisee listing would be negatively impacted.
A likely reasons for Google making this change is that Google wants to connect with the smaller more independent operators and not alienate them as they represent a large part of the bread and butter of Google. There is after all a lot of independent operators out there that Google can earn revenue from. According to Googles boffins that number is more valuable than the franchisees it is going to now down grade the rankings of.
While I understand diversity, variety and fairness, I am not sure that this decision is based purely on that. It will be interesting to see which franchisee listings are lowered and why? Just being a part of a “pack” shouldn’t be a negative. At the same time being a part of a pack shouldn’t be a boost.
Franchising is an integrel part of our financial system. Franchising represents the small to medium business owner. Franchising not only contributes billions to our markets it also employs millions around the world. Google needs to be careful how they implement this change and how they evaluate one business vs the next. With Google being as influential to a franchisees survival as it is, it could be enough to convince some franchisees to leave franchising and go independent, something that every franchisor should be very concerned about.
Variety and diversity is what Google is always after to give the searcher more options, however the result of this will be that it will make it harder for a franchisor to show all their store listings one after another. In other words some franchisee listings won’t show up on the first page of Google any more.
This has the potential to be very costly to sales for not only franchisees and franchisors but any multi store company. The scary thing is that most companies are blissfully unaware of the heavy impact it’s going to have digital sales for their organisation. Why? Well Google local listings are cheap and an easy way for small businesses to rank very high for potential customers who are searching for a local business. Examples of this are “Coffee shop Darling Harbour”, “lawn mowing Chatswood”, “Pool cleaner Geelong” or “key cutter Glenelg”. When 60% of people click on the first 3 business websites listed in a Google search result, small businesses have become heavily reliant upon this traffic for generating a lot of their income. See below a typical search result.
Who is most at risk
Any franchisees within shopping centres with low advertising and marketing budgets who heavily rely on foot traffic for income. These businesses generally look to low cost online methods like Google local business listings and Google maps to help channel online traffic to their shops. As a customer I myself have often pulled out my phone to find the nearest local coffee or key cutting shop to service my needs. Not coming up on that list of choices could be catastrophic for a franchisee that has to shell out huge rental fees each month.
In a time when business attitudes are already flat and franchisees are often struggling to make ends meet, a change like this could be the tipping point that turns a profitable business into one that isn’t.
However it’s not all doom and gloom for franchisee’s as there are many advertising and marketing work arounds ranging from optimisation strategies to Google advertising and social media that can help to counter act this new algorithm. However many businesses still don’t employ the services of a dedicated Internet strategy company to help develop these strategies yet. The role of an Internet strategy company is to do more than just provide the required services but also to allow a business to tap into the huge resource of knowledge of a company that works in this space every day. This kind of relationship will help to develop better strategies to allow the business to continually bend and flex with the changing digital environment.
Below is a typical local search and we have highlighted the most important locations where a franchisee needs to make sure they appear in search results. If you’re not here then you’re potentially missing out on a lot of business. Click on the image to enlarge.
Below is more detail from the original article;
A Google “7 Pack” refers to the highlighted Local listings (business name, address, phone number, website) displayed on a map within the first page of a Google search query — say, for something like “restaurants Boston Massachusetts.” In the past, small, independent mom-and-pop businesses had a hard time competing with multi-location franchises. These little one-off businesses seemed to be outgunned and never appeared among the first results. Suddenly, you’ll notice there are only two or three “pack” results listed — perhaps not the biggest chains anymore — and so many websites saw their number of queries drop by more than 23%. Other common searches affected included: jobs, cars for sale, cruises, apartments, train tickets, and sofas.
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