Google have recently updated their local search and this change will definitely affect all local businesses. The move from the ‘local 7 pack’ to the new ‘local 3 pack’ brings about a different way of listing your local business.
This post will help you understand everything you need to grasp about Google’s August 6th changes, including little known pointers for serious visibility in this new era for the SEO conscious business.
What’s it all about?
The difference that comes with the ‘local 3 packs’ lies in the navigation and the look-n-feel:
a). Only 3 businesses displayed
Take out your phone and Google search for any local listings using keywords like plumbers in Seattle. You will notice results appear in packs of 3, meaning page one has only three local listings.
With the older ‘local 7 packs,’ the findings would show local listings in multiples of 3, 5, and 7, which assured visibility even for businesses that didn’t perform well organically. Evidently, the new 3 pack listings breeds’ serious competition among businesses.
b). No business phone numbers and addresses
Your local business listing on Google now doesn’t need an address or a phone number. Instead, only its name and the street where it is located appear. This means that your potential clients have to dig for your business’s contact information because Google does not provide it upfront.
c). No more ‘Google my business’ links or flyout business cards
In addition to doing away with all business contact information, the new ‘local 3 packs’ also get rid of all 1-click approaches to access the same business contact info. If you click on a listing now, you will open results that have a search view (with a map), a version showing the old local cart, and 20 competitors in a list. Local cards and links to pages (Google My Business) are not there anymore.
Why this change?
Why has Google brought about these dramatic changes to the local search engine results pages (SERPS)? We cannot say for sure what motivated these changes. But after an analysis of what’s going on in Google, we have come to the following assumptions:
a). Google wants a share in the local market
If the recent moves made by Google are anything to go by, we can confidently say that the giant company is looking to get a share of the local services market. First, the company invested $100million in Thumbtack, a company that connects customers with local service providers. Google also hired a tech team from Homejoy in a bid to make a leap into the local services market.
b). Google wants more control
With the older “7 packs,” when a user typed a term in Google search, the results would send them to the homepage or landing page of the company listed on the SERP and away from Google. With the new “3 packs,” Google is taking more control of the process. Instead of being directed to the company’s homepage, users are now sent to another Google page. This change has given Google greater control which translates into more revenue.
Why You Need To Adjust Effectively?
We can’t conclusively predict the real impact of Google’s new local pack, although the first glance promises a new way of listing local business. You might be thinking that these changes are bound to make life harder for local businesses, but the reality is quite different.
Let us see why.
1. Rotation in top-three results
Your physical location dictates the results you get. If you search for ‘Plumbers in Seattle’ in two different places, you open dissimilar findings with three distinct companies for each individual result. There is a high chance your business will appear on the top three listing if customers around your areas search for a service you offer.
2. Searchers are bound to navigate to the 20 business list on the map view
Since users can’t find business contact information via older navigation options (flyout business cards or Google My Business links), they will have to view the 20 business list on the map to find addresses for businesses that interest them. This means the first 20 local businesses will still get a lot of visibility despite the changes
The above facts plus evidence that users tend to prefer organic results shows that there are opportunities for visualization when you list your business. Nevertheless, listing top requires local businesses to invest in better SEO strategies.
How to optimize for Google “3 packs”
Since only three companies appear in results via the 3-pack listings, you will need to go an extra smile for effective listing. Try the following:
A. Create a compelling snippet
If you search for a service and your local company appears in the top 20-map view list, this is for you. You will have to create a better snippet to beat competition when it comes to landing customers via Google maps. Consider the actions below.
1. Properly fill out the Google my business page you have
Most of the information on your local business is derived from the GMB. Therefore, provide as many details as possible to increase the visibility of your business. Here are some tips to make this happen:
2. Earn positive Google+ reviews
Customer reviews increase the credibility of your business. Encourage customers to leave reviews on Google+, Yelp, and other directories. Tons of good reviews will get your site to rank among the top three and increase your visibility.
3. Include opening and closing hours in your snippet
Make sure that the open and closing hours are accurate. Don’t leave the business open for 24hours if this is not the case in reality. If a client contacts you and finds that you are closed, they can give a negative review and hurt your credibility.
4. Optimize on-site SEO
As you optimize off-site SEO, work on your site as well. Include relevant keywords on title tags and H1 and H2 tags. Provide quality content that will be crawled as meaningful for potential readers. Clean up broken links on your site. Use image alt attributes so that Google crawlers can understand what your images are about. Finally, have an appealing layout that eases user navigation. On-site optimization will increase your chances of ranking top on SERPs
B. Old local SEO techniques
This will work awesomely for those businesses that don’t appear on the top 20 list. Work your way to the top list using the techniques below.
1. Claim and fill out a Google My Business listing
If you haven’t yet claimed your GMB listing, do so and follow the tips listed above to provide as much information as possible concerning your business.
2. Build new citations and ensure NAP consistency
NAP stands for name, address, and phone number. NAP plays a critical role in boosting local SEO. Build a NAP citation and make sure that your name, address, and phone number information is consistently listed across the web.
3. Keep earning reviews
Use platforms such as Google+ and directory pages like Yelp to build reviews for your business. The more positive reviews and high stars you have the more reputable your business appears to Google.
4. Build local backlinks
Local backlinks allow you to link to local businesses that are relevant to your business. For example, getting your business listed on local web directories will strengthen your brand and improve your ranking.
5. Undertake effective on-page optimization
On-page optimization allows Google to crawl your pages and rank you favorably. Use the above-mentioned on-site SEO optimization tips to build your website and increase the effectiveness of your off-site SEO strategies.
One important thing we need to point out is that there have been no algorithm changes with this new update. Therefore, if your business has been ranking on the first page, it will still continue to do so provided you stay on top on your SEO game. However, if you don’t rank top yet, don’t fret. Your business can enjoy valuable traffic if you take the steps required to list top under the new ‘local 3 pack listing style. Contact us for comprehensive answers if you have any questions or you need help creating engaging content for your website.