Mobile search has drastically changed search engine results pages in recent years, with an increase in users looking for locally relevant information while on the move. Smartphones are able to deliver location information to search engines; ensuring users get location-specific results to their search. Queries like ‘nearest Italian restaurant’ and ‘pubs near me’ are some of the most popular searches carried out on Google, so it is no wonder there is a growing importance for local businesses to optimize their information accordingly.
With only three spaces available within the ‘local pack’ displayed at the top of a search results page, it has become even more important for businesses to invest time in optimizing for local SEO, such as by creating their ‘Google My Business’ listing, submitting their business to local directories or using local structured data markup in order to secure a top spot.
What is the local SEO 3 pack?
The ‘local SEO 3 pack’, or local pack, is the list of the top three organic results displayed in search results when there is a localized intent. The results are displayed in a large map with the top three business or venues marked with balloons, indicating their location. The results also display a snapshot of information for the company, including quick links to call them, access the website and get directions to the location.
As well as contact information, Google has introduced reviews and photographs, giving users the opportunity to see star ratings and images next to your business name. Customers have autonomy to include their own images as well as add reviews to your business profile. These additions, could make a real difference to your business. Whilst you may not have much control over what customers say in the reviews, it is highly recommended that you are seen to respond to them.
Why is it important to be included in the Local pack?
As well as greater exposure to a business, being featured in the top 3 for local search results is one of the best ways to increase local organic traffic to a website, as many studies have indicated the click through rate for the top businesses featured is considerably higher. There was initially more opportunity for businesses to benefit from local search results, as the pack was longer, with seven listings. However, when Google rolled out the Pigeon update, the results page appearance drastically changed, reducing the display to just three local listings. This is in part due to the fact that a list of 7 results didn’t display very well on mobile. Three looks much better.
Reducing the local pack has minimized the opportunity for local businesses to gain free exposure. If you run a local business or restaurant, being featured in the local pack is one the more important aspects of search engine optimization, as previously mentioned, most users click on the first results they find.
How to increase your opportunity in being featured
Listing your company on ‘Google my Business’ will ensure the most accurate information is displayed for your business. Having consistent details such as business or company name, address and phone number is really important, as Google will identify the consistency (or inconsistency) of information related to your business across your website and other places on the internet.
If Google can’t identify consistent information relating to a business, they will display the information they deem most relevant which could be inaccurate and detrimental to your business. Although there is no real certainty that a business will be listed in local search results, there are a couple of things Google have stated that can increase the opportunity of your business gaining the exposure it deserves:
Confirm the exact location with a Google My Business code, sent by post to your business address
Add photos of the business/venue
Encourage customers and/or visitors to write reviews on Google
Make sure all of business information such as opening hours and phone numbers is accurate
There are of course, lots of other SEO factors that will impact the success of your local SEO and levels of organic traffic, but ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and has relevant local links built will increase the opportunity of being displayed within this local pack. Industry expects have long speculated that Google will soon look to monetize on this organic listings space, and they have already started to introduce adverts among the organic listings.
For now, it is highly worth investing some time into ensuring you have optimized your website and business information if you want to stand the best chance of being featured within the local 3 pack for free.