Local SEO is one of the fastest growing tech sectors, and the amount of money set aside by companies looking to become more visible in their area is growing by the day. The statistics show that 50% of local searches lead to an in-store visit on the same day, and that nearly 1 in 5 result in a same-day purchase. Forecasts show that total spend for SEO will reach upwards of $80 billion by 2020, and the percentage of that dedicated to local will only continue to grow.

Google, never one to rest on its laurels, has announced a major shakeup in the land of local SEO. The organic results that we are used to seeing will now be accompanied by paid ads. Local marketers and businesses alike should take notice, because things are about to change.

The announcement

Google announced this major development just a few days ago at SMX Advanced, where their Global Product Lead for Local Ads, Ali Turhan, announced that paid ads were soon to come for local search. He went on to say that Google was still testing, but this new update could be seen in the coming months.

Where will the ad be displayed?

The placement of the ad may cause a major shakeup in the way local is practiced. Anyone who’s been involved in local SEO knows that Google displays 3 organic listings at the top complete with reviews and other information about the business known as the “snack pack.”

The photo released from the workshop at SMX shows the top result as a paid ad, meaning the snack pack could be reduced to two listings and one ad. Google has made it known that it isn’t certain whether there will be an ad and 3 organic listings or one with 2 organic listings.

How will this change local SEO?

Depending on the placement of the ad, it could seriously affect how local rankings are approached. For one, if there are only 2 snack-pack organic listings, they will be even more valuable than before. What’s more is that blending paid ads with organic search will become the norm, seeing as how that paid ad will be directly in the user’s line of sight, rather than neatly tucked along the side.

Local SEO is a competitive game. Google’s ads in local search might change how the game is played, but it won’t change how important local SEO is to the success of a company.