Google Just Changed Local Apartment SEO

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About a month ago I started noticing a strange thing on the search engine result pages on Google when I searched for specific apartment communities. Here's what the organic search result for a specific apartment community used to look like:


Note that underneath the meta description and above the map pin you can see three links that point toward the Google My Business result. Clicking "1 Google review" would pull up a popup window that allows you to read the review. Clicking "Write a review" would pull up a window allowing you to publish a review. Finally, clicking "Google+ page" would allow you to view the community's Google My Business listing.

What does the new search engine result page look like?

Below you can see a more recent search result page:


Note that in this image the map and sitelinks are still present, but the information linking the organic search result to Google's local business listing is gone. The absence of the review data isn't that big a deal because the knowledge graph entry on the right still has that:


What is notable is the absence of any link that would take users directly to the community's Google My Business page. This is consistent with the move Google has been making for some time. They are deemphasizing Google+ and its related pages as a social network and instead are using the data stored in those pages as a kind of social backplane, to borrow Chris Brogan's term.

As a result, it doesn't really matter if users can access the Google My Business page itself. All they need is the contact information, reviews, and photos stored on the page—all of which can now be accessed on the search engine result page itself.

Will this change anything for Google My Business apartment listings?

Nope. The point of having these listings has never been to get people onto the local listing page. It has always been to provide Google with relevant local information that they can give their users. And that is still going on, even if it's all happening on the SERP rather than the local listing page itself.


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