Google Local Listing 3-pack: What Does This Means for Local Businesses?

Based on relevance, distance, and prominence Google may show one or more maps results for our search query. Traditionally the local maps results composed of 7 business information which we often call 7-pack. On Thursday, August 6th, we began to notice that the traditional 7-packs that frequently showed up in the google local search results were suddenly replaced with 3-packs in the search results.

The new local 3-pack results appearing right below the AdWords and the top of the organic results as usual, which users can click to view full business details with address, phone, photos, hours, reviews, and directions, or click ‘more + search term’ for a full list of business within the local area.

Why These Update?

Google’s focus has been shifting heavily towards mobile friendly search results over the past year and I guess 3-packs update is just Google local results display format changes to fit across various device. Google's 3-packs brings desktop the same user experience as mobile users have been getting in a while.

Here is how the new local pack appears on mobile.

Googles new local 3-pack

What has actually changed in Google local SERPs?

  • Only 3 businesses instead 7.
  • No business addresses and phone numbers, click to call option in mobile device.
  • Google+ Links Removed.
  • Business Category Added.
  • Business Hours Added.
  • “Google Reviews” Renamed to "reviews"
  • No flyout business cards. 
You can read about all the changes from my this post.

What Does It Means for Local Businesses?

This is going to be tough for Local businesses. It mean if your business are not listed in top 3 listing, the chance is very low to get leads from google local search results. Ultimately, I think it will result in more Local businesses looking to increase visibility via Adwords. I also heard a rumor that google want to push adwords ads (I read in WebmasterWorld and Warrior Forum) by this update as they heavily promoting adwords vouchers at the same time update took place.

Do you think google just made this changes overnight without their extensive internal research? No, I don't think so, Google's data team must found something interesting like local top 3 listing might get all the CTR. That's why google knocked out 4 out of 7 from the local results, What do you think?

How to Get Listed in Google 3-Pack

Want to Be Part of the Google Local 3-Pack and Stay safe? Read This Local 3-Pack SEO Guide.
These Local SEO Guide are for businesses who want to list their business in google local 3-Pack or stick to top 3 listing. You'll find this guide strenuous but ensure your local business placement in Google’s 3-Pack.

Depending on your business, Google Page, how your website is set-up and optimized, you might not be able to implement all of these tactics, but implementing even 70% of them is enough for most local businesses to rank in the Google 3-Pack.
  1. Create, verify and Optimize your Google+ Local page
  2. Optimize Your Website for Your Business
  3. Get Local Business Listings (Citations)
  4. Get Reviews on your Google+ Local page and on 3rd party websites
  5. Create and Share Local Content
  6. Find Local Link Opportunities
  7. Constantly Test & Optimize

Tactic #1: Create, verify and Optimize your Google+ Local Page

Google+ Local Page is your direct connection to your customers, whether they’re searching for your business through Google Search, Maps or Google+.
Create Google Plus Business Page

Google+ Local Page dominate in local search results and your competitors are already there, so we want you there too. A verified and optimized Local Page integrates your online business presence to one easy place. Follow this steps to create and optimize your Google+ Local Page:

  • Create, verify or consolidate your Business listings from Google My Business.
  • Select your  business category carefully, The Business Category you choose for your listing is now showing in 3-pack right below your business title.
  • Use a real physical address and a local phone number, not an 800 number.
  • Put as much business information as you can including images and video as required to achieve 100% completion rating.

Tactic #2: Optimize Your Website for Your Business

An optimized website helps search engines identify and rank businesses by their geographical location in relation to a search query. This is not overly difficult, but many local business owners tend to overlook it as it require a great effort. Website On Page signals has 21.0% impact in local search as per Moz research.
Local SEO Microdata Schema Markup

My On Page optimization checklist for local business will help your business rank in google 3-pack as well as increase your website organic ranking. The following optimization techniques will ensure that your website is properly optimized for Google Local 3-pack.

  • Include your business NAP in prominent place.
  • Give your pages geo-specific, descriptive meta tags (meta title and description) including your zip/postal code.
  • Make sure you have contact information, including your NAP, in text on every page of your site.
  • Embed google map and driving direction on your website.
  • Add your location to your image alt text.
  • Add Schema markup in your website where possible.

Tactic #3: Get Local Business Listings (Citations)

Local Business Listings are defined as mentions of your business’s name, address and phone number (aka NAP) on other webpages—even if there is no link point to your website. An example of a citation might be an online local business directory where your business is listed, but not linked to your website.

When it come to Local Map Ranking, Local Business Listings (Aka Citations) are a key component of the ranking algorithms in Google and Bing Local Search. According to Moz 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors, Citation is the 3rd biggest ranking signal and make up 15.5% of the overall ranking factors.

Citation volume and the number of other business listings referencing your business location(s) are important in google local 3-pack; however, consistency and accuracy will always take precedence over volume. Here's a list compiled by Hubspot of the 50 local business directories to submit your business

Tactic #4: Get Reviews on your Google+ Local page and on 3rd party websites

Google + Review
Reviews are one of the major ranking perspective in your local rankings in Google and elsewhere, and they’re one of the very important factors (It hold 9.8% weight in local search) in getting customers to choose you over your competitor.

This is truly important that your business have some positive reviews on Google+ Local page and on other popular third-party sites. When your consumer want to read reviews, they usually visit Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Yelp, CitySearch, Insider Pages, MerchantCircle, TripAdvisor, Better Business Bureau (BBB),  Foursquare, Manta, and Angie’s List.

Tactic #5: Create and Share Local Content

Create local content relevant to your business and the city you live in and share with the world via your website and social media. For example, you can write about an past local event where you participated or an upcoming event you're going to participating.

There’s endless opportunities when you use creative thinking about the events and businesses in your area of town. Just don't forget to include images, videos and link to the event site (If there's any website dedicated to that event). Want more Local Content Creation Idea, read Mike Ramsey Strategy.

Tactic #6: Find Local Link Opportunities

Moz found Link is the second important factor and has 18.3% impact in local search results. Links from local websites that point to your website impacts your sites ability to rank in 3-pack and make your website "authority" locally.

There are many ways to acquire local links like Sponsor a meetup group, Host a community event, donate to a local club or organization, from local newspaper site, etc. You can find an Interesting Local Link Building Guide from Casey Meraz Post on Moz.

Tactic #7: Constantly Test & Optimize

The previous six tactic that we have just discussed need to be constantly addressed. To dominate in Google Local 3-Pack you need to always be one step ahead of your competitors. There is always room for improvement, so don't be afraid to test and make changes. You would be surprised at how the smallest change can often result in the biggest change. What do you think?