Google’s search engine strategies and algorithms are regularly updated and improved to ensure the best browsing experience for customers. One such change has been in the Google local pack section of the search engine.
When you search something in Google’s search engine, “Best coffee shops in Soho” for example, you get two categories of results. One category is the top section of the results page where businesses are listed in a box. This section is called the Google local pack. The top-most relevant businesses to the search result are displayed in this Google local pack section.
The second category is the regular organic results one gets related to their searches. Previously, this local pack section displayed the Top 7 results relevant to your search query. However, Google updated this last year, and now we see only the Top 3 most relevant results.
The Google 3 pack
This trimmed view of the top three results is called the Google 3 pack. If you search for “Best coffee shops in Mayfair,” this is how the results are displayed in the Google 3 pack:
The difference isn’t only in the number of search results displayed; here are the other changes that have shown up in the local pack section of Google search results:
- The Google 3 pack only shows the name of the business, it’s ratings, category, street name and some additional information in bite-sized points.Complete business address and phone number of the company can only be accessed after clicking on the result of your choice.
- All one-way clicks to access this information have been disabled as well. Now, when you click on the result of your choice, Google opens a Google Maps view of all the results with a business card popping from the side. This business card is of the company that you selected.
The entire interface looks something like this:
Now, as local SEO strategies by Google change, it becomes crucially important for businesses to adapt their own local SEO strategies for best results. 68% of searchers prefer to choose local services from this local pack.
If your business does not show in the Google local pack or if your rankings have dropped drastically since the last time you checked, it’s time to give your local SEO strategies some attention.
Here are some evergreen tips you can utilise to dominate the Google 3 pack and attract more potential customers than ever before:
How to get ranked in the Google 3 pack?
The key thing with this local pack is that its search results change depending upon the location of the user. So, if someone searches for “coffee shops near me” in two different locations, they will get different results each time. Thus, it becomes crucial for businesses to amp-up their local SEO game and focus on ranking higher in the areas they service.
You might not be able to guarantee your spot in the Google 3 pack, but you can optimise your local SEO efforts to increase your chances of dominating the local pack. Before anything else, you must create a Google My Business account for your business.
This is a prerequisite to secure your place in the Google 3 pack. When you type in your company’s name in the “business name” field, you might find that a listing has already been created for your company. If that’s the case, all you need to do is claim this listing and then verify your claim. If you can’t find yourself on the list, create a new account.
After this, you need to get started with optimising your Google My Business account and boosting your local SEO.
Optimise your business listing on Google My Business
The information you add to your Google My Business heavily influences the visibility and ranking of your company in Google search results. To be able to rank in the Google 3 pack, you must fill out the following information:
Business name – Enter only your company’s registered name in here without any extra information. For example, if you are “Awesome X Coffee” located in Soho, do not enter your business name as “Awesome X Coffee, Soho – Best Coffee.” Simply add “Awesome X Coffee.”
Category – Without a category, Google won’t know which search query to match your business with. Adding your business category helps Google understand your domain and accordingly lists you higher in a local pack.
NAP – Add your company’s name, address, and phone number and ensure that it is in the same format as listed on your business website.
Reviews – Online reviews play a deciding factor in the purchasing pattern of a customer. Make sure that you have customer-provided reviews added to your Google My Business account.
Pictures – Having a few pictures related to your business helps customers know your company more closely. Without any pictures, one cannot build trust with a company. These pictures could be your office space, store outlet, products, and so on.
Ask your customers to add Google reviews for your business
The business listings in the Google 3 pack have 472% more reviews than the listings mentioned after these top three results. Moreover, Google lists the businesses with the most reviews 63% of the time without considering any other factors.
Having loads of positive reviews on your Google My Business account is one of the best ways to boost your rankings in the Google local pack. Reach out to your happy and satisfied customers and ask them to post online reviews for your company.
If you do not have a physical store that you operate out of, you could send an email with the link and ask the customer for a quick review.
This is how the Google reviews section of a company’s Google My Business account looks like:
The Google search engine picks up on these positive reviews and boosts the rankings of your business listing.
It’s important to note here that you might also get negative reviews in this section. These negative reviews can severely hamper your rankings.
In the case that you have several negative reviews listed, make it a point to reach out to the customers and ask them if you could resolve the issue for them. Address every negative review and ensure that you respond to them politely. If the issue is resolved, ask the customer to update their review and post a positive one if they’d like.
Choose relevant keywords and boost on-page SEO
The Google search engine takes relevancy into account when deciding upon the ranking of a business listing. This factor makes it very important for businesses to add relevant content on their websites.
Only when your website is relevant to a search query will it be shown to the user when they search for that particular item. Your business must also be located in close distance to the user entering a search query. This means that if you are located in Mayfair and are ranking very well for “affordable coffee places,” your business listing won’t be shown in the Google 3 pack if the user searching for the same is currently in Soho.
Here are the Google 3 pack search results for “affordable coffee places in Soho:”
On the other hand, here are the Google 3 pack search results for “affordable coffee places in Camden Town:”
Thus, the content on your website should be both relevant and location-optimised. Pick a keyword that takes into account both your business and your location. Consider replacing your target keyword (“affordable coffee places”) with “affordable coffee places near Soho” or “where to buy next coffee near Soho.”
Ensure that your H1 headings, title tags and meta-descriptions include this particular target keyword. Adding such consistency in numerous different areas helps boost your local SEO further.
Analyse and maintain your website’s SEO health
A slow-loading website that’s not optimised for mobile devices is heavily penalised by Google. Top-notch SEO health of your website ensures that your customers get a good browsing experience, which is exactly what the Google search engine strives for.
The important things to look out for are your website’s crawlability, mobile-friendliness, loading speed and security. An excellent way of ensuring faster loading speeds is to only put limited but high-quality images. Remove all unnecessary media files or website copy. Also, check the HTTPS requests and redirects and make efforts to minimise them.
Other things to look out for include adding whitespace to your website, making use of browser caching, optimising images, videos and other media files, enabling file compression and using a content distribution network.
Getting into the Google 3 pack isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible either. With consistent effort, you can secure your place in the Google local pack. However, once you do achieve this, ensure that you do not relax your efforts.
The Google search engine space changes every minute, and you must stay on your toes to establish a solid online presence for your brand.
Without this, your rankings can plummet very easily, and it gets very difficult to salvage the damage done. Using these simple tips can help you dominate the Google 3 pack and maintain your position for a long time.