The Google 3 Pack: The Local SEO Secret Weapon

In this next installment of our ongoing series on Local SEO, we take a closer look at the Google 3 Pack, its importance to local businesses, and how you can get your (or your client’s) business listed in the 3 pack.

Note: In my previous article, I gave a brief overview of the 3 pack, along with many other facets of local SEO. Be sure to check it out!

What is the Google 3 Pack?

If Google perceives that a search query has “local intent,” the first search results feature three local businesses displayed as a group (or “pack”), along with a map highlighting these businesses’ locations. This pack of local businesses is displayed after any paid ads, and before the organic search results.

Local 3 Pack

Make note of a few important elements of the 3 Pack example above:

  • Business reviews are prominently displayed
  • Eye-catching images
  • Business hours, and whether the business is currently open or closed
  • Business phone number
Google 3 Pack Overview

Note that the 3 Pack appears before the organic search results.

What exactly does “local intent” mean? A search could have local intent if:

  • The search phrase includes a geographic term (e.g. city name, street name, zip code)
  • The search phrase includes words such as “find…” or “near me”
  • The search phrase includes a business or term that is normally associated with a local business, such as “plumber”, “realtor”, or “dentist”

Previously, the local pack included seven local results, rather than three. However, this 7 Pack was too big to display properly on mobile, so Google made the change to the 3 pack, which nicely comprises the first page of search results when a local query is made on a smart phone.

How Can the 3 Pack Impact Your Business?

Since the Local 3 Pack is the first thing potential customers see when they search for a product or service, it is easy to see how getting your business (or your client’s business) featured in the 3 Pack can be a HUGE shortcut to getting to the top of page 1 of the search engine results.

In fact, the first, second and third results receive 24.48%, 13.81% and 9.5% of clicks respectively, for a combined total of 47.79% of clicks, according to Advanced Web Ranking (statistics for mobile traffic, December 2017).

When you combine that with the fact that more searches occur on mobile vs. desktop , you can easily see how very important the Google 3 Pack can be!

Please note that since the 3 Pack is totally dependent on the location of the searcher and the terms that are searched, it is impossible to guarantee that a business will appear in the 3 Pack. What we can do, however, is examine how you can increase the chances of appearing in the 3 pack when a potential customer (i.e. someone in your geographic area) searches for your product or service.

How to Get Your Business Featured in the 3 Pack

When focusing on getting your business included in the Google 3 Pack, the word of the day is OPTIMIZATION. Here are some of the most important keys to unlocking the 3 Pack.

Google My Business

The very first step in this process is to create or claim your Google My Business profile.

This video explains how you can sign up for Google My Business.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdCZMWkYDJQ

And this video explains how to verify your business with Google.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sObwsdA1FE

Now that you have a Google My Business profile, it’s time to optimize your listing. Be sure to:

  • Make sure you have provided as many details about your business as possible
  • Make sure all information is accurate, especially your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)
  • Verify your business
  • Update your business hours
  • Add your company logo
  • Add as many high-quality photos as possible
  • Actively manage and respond to reviews

Optimizing your Google My Business Profile is not just a one-time thing…it’s an ongoing process. Get it right from the beginning and you’ll be on your way to the 3 Pack.

Gather Positive Google My Business Reviews

This next step might be easier said than done, but it is vitally important. Positive reviews of your business act as social proof of your brand, inspiring confidence in potential customers who find your business online.

In addition, as you can see in the Local 3 Pack image we included earlier in this post, the business reviews are featured prominently in the 3 Pack listings, and it is very apparent when they are missing.

Here are a few important review strategies:

  1. Ask for reviews: If you are a retail business, you can include an email sign up form at the register. If you don’t have a point of sale, you can still use email to communicate post-transaction or, better yet, pick up the phone and reach out to your customers.
  2. Simplify the process: Make it easy for your customers to review your business. When sending an email, provide a link to your Google My Business profile. On your business website, be sure to include a prominent link or button to take your customer directly to your profile.
  3. Don’t fake it: While it is important for your business to acquire reviews, it is even more important that those reviews are from real customers. Do not risk your reputation by creating or buying fake reviews. It is not worth it!
  4. Manage your negative reviews: Let’s face it, negative reviews are often unavoidable. If your business gets a negative review, be sure to promptly (and professionally) address the dissatisfied customer’s concerns. While a negative review can be a challenge, it really is an opportunity for communication and outreach into your community. (NOTE: If you are currently dealing with a messy negative review situation, be sure to look into our Reputation Management service.)
  5. Go beyond Google: There are many other sites that offer customers the chance to review your business, so you will do yourself a favor by extending your presence onto some of these platforms:
    1. Yelp
    2. Angie’s List
    3. Better Business Bureau
    4. Foursquare
    5. Local Directories

Optimize Your Website

In addition to focusing on Google My Business and other local business directories and review sites, optimizing your business website can improve your chances at appearing in the Local 3 Pack.

Content on your business website should be created to cater to your local audience. Make sure your content offers real value to your customers by solving a problem or answering a question.

Review your site’s title tags, H1 tags, and IMG ALT tags to make sure they include geographically relevant text. However, don’t be “spammy” with the titles and headings.

Always choose readability instead of over-optimization.

When it makes sense, embedding a Google map on your site (either in the footer section, or at the very least on your About Us or Contact page) is another easy step you can take to optimize your site for local users.

Build Quality Local Backlinks

Being listed on local directory and citation sites (see above) is a great way to build backlinks to your business website. What other ways can you generate high quality links to your business?

There are several strategies you can use here. Here are a few ideas:

  • Press releases can be a great source for backlinks, so be sure to utilize press releases for any new business news, promotions, etc.
  • Try cross-promotions with other local area businesses and organizations, and then all parties involved can promote each other’s businesses or services. This will be a win-win situation for all involved.
  • Outreach into your community can also present an opportunity for backlinks, and more importantly, build relationships and trust within your community.

These are just a few quick examples. If you spend a little time brainstorming, I’m certain you will be able to quickly come up with many backlink opportunity ideas of your own.

PosiRank Can Help

By now it should be very clear that the Google 3 Pack is some seriously prime real estate for every local business. Armed with the strategies outlined in this article, you should be well on your way to optimizing your business’s online presence and increasing the likelihood of appearing in the 3 Pack.

Don’t worry if this all seems a bit overwhelming…PosiRank can help. Whether you are a local business who needs assistance with your own marketing, or an agency looking to leverage PosiRank’s expertise, we offer many services that will help your local SEO campaigns succeed. Our services include on-site optimization (comprehensive on-site audits, title tag and meta description rewrites, local business listings, reputation management, content creation, and much more). Contact us here to get started today.

Some images courtesy BruceClay.com 

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