Over the last decade, it’s become increasingly important for local business owners to establish and grow their online presence. This is largely because building brand awareness online can quickly boost sales in the offline world.
One of the best ways for a business to get noticed, and to gain an advantage over its competitors, is to rank in the Google Local Pack.
What is the Google Local Pack?
The Local Pack appears at the top of search engine results pages (SERPs) when a user makes a search query with local intent. It’s sometimes known as the Local 3 Pack, the Google 3 pack, the Google Map Pack, or—and this is my personal favorite—the Snack Pack.
Why is it called a ‘3 pack’?
The three most relevant results—determined by Google’s search algorithm—are featured in this ‘local SERPs pack’, and are distinctly separate from the remaining organic search results. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, then you’ll want to appear here!
These top three results are accompanied by a map that shows exactly where they’re located, as well as the address, opening hours, and average star rating from customer reviews, plus a click-to-call option for mobile users.
How does Google identify a local search?
The following are different ways for Google to identify that a user is making a search with local intent:
- A user will include the name of the desired geographic area, such as the town or city, within their search term. For example, ‘hair salon in Syracuse, NY’.
- A user will include ‘near me’ within their search query. For example, ‘hair salon near me’. Google will use GPS tracking to accurately understand where the user is searching from.
- A user will type their search query, such as ‘hair salon’, without any additional information. Google will understand that this user is likely searching for a hair salon to visit and will factor in their location while determining the most relevant results.
How is the Google Local Pack different from organic SERPs?
The algorithm for the Google Local Pack is different from organic SERP listings, so you’ll need to consider Local Pack SEO separately—start by checking out these local SEO tips for better visibility.
When it comes to appearance, the main difference is that the Google Local Pack contains clear calls to action, such as to visit the website or to make a phone call. Another important difference is that the Local Pack features concise information about a business that the user will naturally benefit from, such as location and hours of operation.
These features make these positions more valuable—both to the searcher and to the top-ranking local businesses.
Related: A Beginner’s Guide to Local SEO – Free Online Course
History of the Google Local Pack
The Google Local 3 Pack has been a feature in local SERPs since 2015. Before this time, Google displayed seven results in a list without a map.
The reduction from seven results to three is great for readability on mobile devices, and the addition of a map helps the user to immediately understand the location of the results.
Why should I care?
Of the approximately 40,000 Google searches made around the globe every second, data reveals that 46% of these queries have local intent. This equates to a huge number of people seeking information in their local area every single day.
The stats also show that at least 93% of Google searches with local intent will include a Local Pack within the results.
What’s more, approximately 50% of users making a local search on a phone will visit a nearby business concerning this query within 24 hours. Plus, 78% of these searches will result in an offline sale in the near future.
These figures highlight the importance of being visible to consumers who are ready to spend when they make a local search.
How do I climb the Google Map Pack rankings?
To start climbing the rankings into the Google Map Pack, you will first need to claim your Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business).
Once you’ve claimed your Google Business Profile (GBP), you’ll then need to optimize it with the appropriate information. This involves completing all of the relevant sections, as well as including photos of your business.
When deciding which GBP results to return for a query, Google primarily considers:
- Proximity—how close your business is to the user
- Prominence—how popular your business is
- Relevance—how closely matched your business is to the search query
The algorithm will also prioritize listings that are maintained with accurate and up-to-date details, as well as those that contain beneficial information about the business.
The majority of consumers won’t check beyond the first page of results, so it’s essential that your business is ranking well for a range of different search terms. Once your listing is claimed and optimized, Local Pack SEO should then be the next step to boosting your online visibility.
It’s often the case that small local businesses can gain greater prominence over the big chains in local rankings.
This is because when it comes to local SERPs, the Google algorithm favors well-optimized GBP listings over more conventional SEO ranking factors.
What about Google Maps?
Within the Local Pack Google listings, users can click to see more results, and doing so will take them to Google Local Finder (see image below). This is a more comprehensive list of relevant local businesses for the search query. However, it’s important to be aware that the Local Finder is not the same as Google Maps.
Check out our dedicated post on the difference between Google Local Finder and Google Maps.
Securing Local Search Success
The importance of ranking in the Google Map Pack shouldn’t be overlooked as a brick-and-mortar business owner. You may wish to hire an agency to help you, but there are many actions you can take yourself. If you want to start learning more about local SEO, then check out our comprehensive article on local ranking factors.
As you push ahead with your local search strategy, it’s important to be aware that Google results will vary when you check your rankings from different locations. Google will always know where you are and will return the results that are most relevant to your current location.
Variance in the search results can be a stumbling block to understanding how your business is truly performing locally. You can easily solve this problem by using our free tool to accurately observe your local rankings from any location.
With the best knowledge and the right tools, you’ll be well on your way to local search success!