Ronak Kothari is the founder of RONKOT, a full-service digital marketing agency.
Google is the world’s favorite search engine because it offers users the best results for their queries. It constantly strives to help them to surf the internet easily. This is why it regularly updates its algorithm.
Consider Google’s Local Pack. In 2015, Google cut down the 7-pack to 3-pack so that people could easily access its search engine results pages (SERPs) on their mobile devices.
Google’s Local 3-pack is a set of 3 business listings that come up for local queries. They are the zero-click search results that feature above the organic results in the SERPs. On the SEO front, the Local 3-pack is known to consistently outperform both the paid advertisements and organic searches.
Hence, as a business that offers on-site services, you must leverage Google’s Local Pack to drive traffic to your site. Since Local 3-pack lies at the top of the SERPs, it offers distinct benefits. It helps businesses to establish visibility and compete with other brands in the online market.
The pack makes it possible for them to win new customers and increase their revenue. In fact, statistics by HubSpot shows that 88% of users either call or visit a local business within 24 hours of finding it. Further, it reveals that 92% of people choose businesses on the first page of SERPs.
Ranking on the first page can do wonders for your business growth. But there is no better place than rank zero to win leads. Hence, you must optimize your site to feature on that coveted spot – the Local 3-pack. Otherwise, you risk losing out on a chance to make a serious profit.
In this article, we discuss how you can optimize your site to rank higher in the local pack. But first, let us look at the criteria Google uses to decide who to feature in the SERPs.
How Google Ranks Sites for Local Searches
The image below shows the top 3 results for ‘salons in Texas.’ These business listings make up what is known as the Local 3-pack. Google assigned them the zero rank because of all the things they got right.
Image Source: Google
To begin with, consider their NAPW (name, address, phone number, and website), along with map location. This information makes it incredibly easier for the netizens to find what they are looking for.
Within a few seconds of getting on the first page of Google SERP, users can check out the working hours of a business and its ratings to judge if they would like to try out its services. But there is more.
It also shows the number of years they have been active to showcase their expertise. These details play a huge role in attracting potential customers.
Google takes into account three factors when deciding which businesses to feature in the Local 3-pack. These are:
- Relevance: This measures how useful or relevant a site’s content is to users’ queries.
- Distance: It determines how near a business is to visitors. Google relies upon the search term entered by users to assess this. In case, the search term is not location-specific, Google considers their last-known location.
- Prominence: This checks a business’s reputation and trustworthiness in the market.
To measure these, Google not only considers a business’s site but also its Google My Business (GMB) profile. Thus, you need to focus on both to rise in the Local 3-pack.
How To Rank in Google Local Packs
1. Optimize Your Website
Setting up a website is the only first step towards getting an entry into the SERPs. The real challenge lies in optimizing it to drive traffic and win leads. Research proves that mobile friendliness is a major factor that governs a website’s authority.
In fact, according to the HubSpot statistics we mentioned earlier, 61% of users will contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site. While that is one crucial element, there are others:
- Speed: Make sure your website loads super fast. In a different statistics compilation, Kristen Baker points out that the first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates.
If your site is not optimized for speed, it will acquire a high bounce rate and thus a lower rank in the SERPs. To reduce your website’s loading time:
– Optimize multimedia content
– Reduce redirects
– Uninstall irrelevant themes and plugins
- Content: Publish blog posts on your website that offer value-adding content. Research keywords and embed them as anchor texts to link your internal web pages. While on it, make sure that your keywords are long-tailed.
The idea behind this strategy is to rank for keywords that are ultra-specific but less competitive in the SERPs. However, don’t stuff your articles with phrases that do nothing to take forward your argument or to help readers.
One way around this is by deploying a topics cluster strategy. Topic clusters build on the idea discussed in a pillar article and are a great way to boost your content marketing efforts.
To take an example, if you have a coffee outlet, how coffee beans are sourced in different parts of the globe can be great topic pillars for a post on the history of coffee!
- Links: It refers to building quality inbound links for your domain. For off-site optimization, local link building is a crucial technique. If you publish stellar content on your blog, other websites will cite it, thus building your site authority in the SERPs.
While internally linking your pages using topic clusters will structure your website, getting off-page mentions from authoritative sources will bolster its online reputation and credibility.
Thus, find opportunities for guest posting in reputed publications in your niche.
2. Optimize Your GMB Profile
Image Source: Google
Research shows that 64% of netizens use GMB to look up the contact details of a local business. With this figure set to grow in the near future, you can surely guess the potential of a GMB profile. People are increasingly looking for info related to local businesses.
In fact, the “near me” type Google searches grew by more than 900% over the last two years! However, you will fail to maximize revenue without optimizing your GMB profile.
As we discussed earlier, an optimized GMB profile is an equally important ranking factor in Google’s Local 3-Pack. Hence, pay attention to its following features to increase your reach:
- NAPW: A business’s name, address, phone number, and website is the first thing that users look for. Ensure that your profile provides accurate and updated information.
The image below shows the fields you need to fill for adding a location to your GMB profile.
Image Source: HubSpot
If you change your address or phone number, it may create a duplicate listing for your business in GMB. Having more than one listing can be confusing for both users and search engine bots.
Thus, make sure that your business shows up for one correct listing. Additionally, do not forget to fill out the columns for business hours and description. This helps people to better understand the services you deal in.
- Reviews: About 87% of people factor in online reviews and ratings before trying out a local business. That staggering number should be enough to push any owner to publish them on their profile.
As you establish your authority in the SERPs, reach out to people for reviews. But, do not be discouraged on receiving negative feedback. Instead, it should be your cue to revamp things on-site to improve customer experience.
Always respond to negative reviews in a professional tone while addressing the customer’s concerns. It will strengthen its credibility in the online market.
- Category: Do not use this column to stuff keywords. Rather, describe the services you offer in this section, thus ensuring Google correctly matches your business with local queries.
For example, if you have a continental restaurant in Texas, use “Continental Food” and “Continental Food Delivery” rather than “Restaurant” and “Restaurant Delivery.”
- Attribute: Google introduced this feature in 2016 to help businesses post about any specific facilities they do or don’t offer. In this section, include details that will inform users about services they can expect on your site.
Check out how these three bakeries tell customers about their dining and delivery services. Attributes like “curbside pickup”, “takeaway’, and “no dine-in” make it easier for the audience to pick a service that caters to their specific needs.
Image Source: Google
The Way Ahead
Contrary to popular belief, your work does not stop with getting a spot on the Local 3-pack. You need to regularly monitor information it shares. This is because any random person can change your NAP, category, and location. While these edits show as suggestions, they can have a huge impact on your rank in the SERPs.
You can fix this issue either manually or by getting in touch with the GMB support team.
The Local 3-pack FAQs
Before wrapping up, we would like to answer a few FAQs about Google’s 3-pack that come our way. In case you have a different query, do not hesitate to reach us!
1. Is Local 3-pack suitable for all businesses?
It is relevant for any owner who provides on-site services. While the Pack drives traffic and revenue for almost every business, it is especially suited for the following industries:
- Personal care services like salons and spas
- Automobiles like car dealerships
For ones in the hospitality sector, they should target a rank on the Local Teaser Pack in the SERPs.
2. What’s the difference between Google’s Local 3-pack and Teaser Pack?
Though similar to the 3-pack, the Teaser Pack has a few extra elements. While it carries the regular NAPW info and reviews, it also features:
- Booking options
- Price range
These help users quickly glance through details that may persuade them to check out a given business/service.
3. What’s the fastest method to fix an error in my NAPW information?
There is a standard protocol to look into the problems businesses may face due to the edits by people online. However, you can tag @GoogleMyBiz in a tweet and expect to hear back from them within 15 minutes.
Google’s Local 3-pack offers incredible opportunities for business growth. It comes equipped with features that make it possible for local businesses to compete in the online marketplace. With the right set of tactics like optimizing their website and GMB profile, they can win new customers and take their business to new heights. Use the tips we shared to get started today!