If you type “pizza restaurant” (where you live)” into Google in 2019, you will get a list of such establishments in your area of town. Google wants to provide the information that is most relevant to you, so the restaurants most relevant to you will be displayed. In other words, your geographical location will determine which pizza place listings will be displayed.
These listings are at the top of the page in a special list accompanied by a map.
For example, this result is for the area around our London office:
And, for those of you across the pond, this result is for the area around one of our US satellite locations:
And these kinds of results will display for almost any location (that sells pizza) in the world. The same applies to almost any kind of local business. Hairdressers, plumbers, the list goes on. And there will always be a ‘top 3’, even though there are actually more red clickable markers on the map, so that really is the place you want to be.
Why Did Google Change to the Local SEO 3 Pack?
Before the 3 listings were displayed?, Google showed seven local companies in a list form, known as the 7 pack. This meant that more local businesses had a chance to squeeze into the first search results page, even if their website did not perform well organically.
Google’s decision to show fewer listings appears to have been motivated by the huge rise in mobile search use. 3 Pack search results make desktop searches mirror those on mobile with additional space for map results and reviews, but the caveat is fewer contenders for the top rankings. However, as mentioned above, search results are localised, meaning that the local SEO three-pack changes considerably depending on searcher’s locations.
You can expand the “More Places” section below the local SEO 3 pack, and these results appear to be unaffected in local search results. This leaves ample opportunity for businesses that don’t make the top three to still make it in the top search results. But the idea is to get into that local 3 pack. So, the obvious question is, what is the best way to go about trying to do that? Here are some basic tactics to consider:
Claim and Complete Your Google My Business Listing Properly
Most of the information for your local business as Google displays it (including your address, phone number, images, street view, and so on.) is taken from your Google My Business page.
already, start by claiming your Google My Business listing and fill out as much as possible, including a minimum of the following:
- A long, unique description that’s formatted correctly uses a keyword or two and includes links.
- The correct categories for your business.
- A high-resolution profile image and cover photo.
- Additional business photos, as many GOOD ones as possible.
- A working local phone number.
- A business address that’s consistent with the address on your website and local directories.
- If your staff do not mind, add images of them as well. A feeling of personal connection goes a long way when choosing a local company to do business with.
All of these points add up to a fully optimised Google My Business listing. The more the profile is filled out, the better your company will look to searchers as they will see all the relevant contact information and some highlighted pictures to give them a good idea of who you are as a business.
Work on Your Reviews
Google has removed phone numbers and exact addresses from search results but starred reviews remain. Therefore, businesses hoping to both crack the top three and see traffic from that ranking need to make sure they’ve got a high volume of good reviews.
And these are not only Google reviews, – although those are hugely important – but also reviews on local directory pages like Yelp! and even Facebook, along with industry-specific sites. So ask customers to leave reviews and do it often.
After all, when looking to visit a new place or buy a new product where do you tend to check first? That’s right…usually the reviews. By having quality reviews ready and displayed from genuine customers can help give that last little push for someone to come visit your shoppe.
In addition to this, be sure to engage with these reviews as well. Thank the person and leave a thoughtful comment in regards to the review they took the time to leave for you. Word of mouth has a huge impact, so thank people for those positive reviews and explain how you will address any issues when a negative review comes through.
Make Sure Your Opening Hours Are Correct
Each local business listing’s snippet now includes the business’s working hours. Depending on the time a searcher begins to search, the searcher will see the following information:
‘Closes at ___ ‘
‘Opens at ___’
Ensure you show your company’s correct opening hours on your Google My Business page. Best not to leave it at ‘open all hours’ if you have no intention to do so — because if a searcher calls your business and you do not respond you’ll damage your brand and they do also have the option to report the error to Google, who may penalise your page for displaying incorrect information.
Not to mention, as we stressed the importance of reviews, there are plenty of people out there willing to leave a poor review if your hours do not match when you are actually operating. Having someone not there to pick up a phone or a customer driving across town just to find a locked door has the potential to cause a big hit to your reputation.
To ensure that you’re turning up in relevant local searches above your competitors, you should make search terms as specific as possible.
If you’re not in the top three results yet for the broader searches you have been aiming for, then reposition your brand as more specialist. Avoid trying to rank for “restaurant” — try for “Pizza restaurant”. Rather than “builder” — try for “residential builder.”
The aim is to be as specific as possible to match what locals search for — then it’ll be more likely you will appear in the local SEO 3 pack. This will call for some significant keyword research in many cases, but it’s time and effort well spent if you want to appear in that Top 3 spot
Another vital local SEO factor for listings is your website’s content, so try to maximise the most value out of it. Add your City/Region, plus a relevant keyword, within these elements of your landing page whenever possible.
- – Title tag
- – H1 tag
- – H2 tag
- – Page URL
- – Page content
- – Image ALT attributes
Plus, embedding a Google map with your business marker into your landing page will also aid local SEO listings.
Link building within local SEO campaigns is important. Compared to standard SEO campaigns, local SEO relies much more on links from other local websites that are really relevant to your business.
For example, if you are a local plumber, listing on plumber web directories that display your address is a must — as this adds strength to the local search results.
The same with Yelp and Yellow page related directories. Meaning that besides focusing on driving search traffic to your website, you can earn additional visibility by building a solid business presence on leading local directories within your industry.
Google’s local SEO 3 pack is designed to be a better, more relevant browsing experience for searchers. It’s up to you and your local business to ensure that you apply to their search.