Google Changes Local Search – How it Impacts Auto Repair Shops

Feb 4, 2022

Google has recently adjusted their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) in a couple of ways that are likely to significantly impact auto repair shops.

How will this affect your shop?

If you get any business from the web, this change has the potential to greatly decrease that business.

If you’d like to get more business from the web, this change opens up a greater opportunity to help you do so.

What has changed?

We’ll use a search we recently conducted for auto repair to demonstrate the changes.

First, the layout of the SERP on desktop now shows the Local Pack, the listing of 3-4 shops that Google has showcased in the results, to the left of the map.

Before this change took place around December 2021, the Local Pack was displayed below the map.

Auto Repair Local Pack

While this is the change that is most noticeable visually, it has much less of an impact on your shop’s opportunity to attract customers than the other change.

Second, and much more significantly, as you can see from the image below, Google has now defaulted the “Sort by” option for how shops get displayed in the Local Pack to “Best match” instead of “Distance.”

Why is that so important?

If you’ve heard or seen anything we’ve done over the last few years related to the Local Pack, you know we’ve emphasized that proximity to the searcher was the number one factor for what shops were included in the Local Pack. In almost all cases when you conducted a search like this one, the shops would be displayed in order by how close they were to the person conducting the search. In fact, the distance would be displayed, as you can see below in a screenshot taken from a search from a couple years ago:

Auto Repair Local Pack - Louisville

In a system with distance to the searcher being such a significant factor, your ability to impact where you showed up in the Local Pack was very limited. As long as you picked the right category (“Auto Repair Shop” for most) and had included all of the main contact information for the shop, you were mostly good to go.

Now the game has changed. With “Best match” being the default it will likely be much more important that you complete all the fields available to you in your Google Business Profile. In addition, you’ll want to consider utilizing keywords. We’ve seen SERPs that include snippets from services, the description, posts and definitely from reviews.

To further drive home the point – Google has already given us a model for how they determine “Best match” – the organic search results for websites. They’ve been determining the best matches for searches there for many years. It’s highly likely that they will apply a similar approach to the Local Pack and that your Google Business Profile will require the same level of focus on search engine optimization (SEO) that your website requires to search well.

How many people click on the shops in the Local Pack?

Here’s part two of the answer to why this is so important – there’s a lot of potential business at stake. The most recent study available showed that when consumers are searching for local services nearly 33% of all clicks go to the businesses included in the Local Pack. That’s a significant number of potential customers. With “Best match” being the default for the Local Pack results, this greatly opens up opportunities for auto repair shops who have put the time and effort into their Google Business Profile and into getting reviews from happy customers.

What should you do?

Complete your Google Business Profile. Make sure all the information is accurate. Look for fields you haven’t previously filled out and complete them. Make sure your website is linked. Update your photos and create a plan for updating photos consistently in the future.

Consider using posts and creating a plan for posting in the future. A nice thing about posting on your Google Business Profile is that it’s not like Facebook, you don’t have to post as often. Posting every 7-10 days is absolutely fine.

Ask for reviews. Do it consistently. And ask your happy customers to include the services you provided to them in the review. Those snippets are consistently used in the Local Pack listing and can help you win new customers.

If all this sounds like too much to manage, we can help. We can optimize your Google Business Profile and manage it going forward. If you’d like to hear more about what we can do for you, call us at 855-294-6397 or schedule a meeting with us at a time that’s convenient for you!