Google has made a significant change to its Local Business Center listings.
As you can see in the image below, instead of displaying the top 10 local business listings, Google is now only showing the top 7.
This makes it just that much more difficult for local businesses to show up on the first page of a local business search in competitive markets.
This change also re-emphasizes the importance of optimizing your business listing so that you can improve your business’ local search ranking position.
Make sure you use the appropriate categories and keywords in your local business center descriptions and try and get additional citations from local directories as well.
It looks Google made this change in order to free up real estate on the first page for their new Local Listing Ads service. For a flat monthly fee, Google will display your business ad in the sponsored search section as shown below.
This service is currently only available in San Francisco and San Diego.
You can learn more about the Google Local Listing Ad service in the video: