The Google Local Pack is a curated list of local businesses. It displays top businesses related to the searched topic, with links to profiles that contain photos, reviews, and other information.
When the Local Pack was initially introduced, the top seven results for a local search were grouped into their own panel at the top of the page. This early version was also called the Local 7-Pack. Businesses and search engine optimization (SEO) experts adopted best practices to get into the 7-Pack, since inclusion led to better search outcomes and more traffic. In August 2015, Google cut the 7-Pack down to just three results called the Local 3-Pack and adjusted the format of the panel. This major change in search engine results pages (SERPs) caused a stir within the SEO industry.
What has really changed in the local SERPs?
The navigation of these panels has been altered, as has their look and feel, with ongoing Google Local Pack updates. Here are details on the current version of this critical local SEO feature:
Just three businesses displayed, instead of up to seven.
Local Packs contained three, five, or seven listings before the update. With more available slots, more local businesses appeared on page one of the SERPs. In contrast, competition has now become incredibly fierce for first-page listings in the era of the 3-Pack.
No street addresses or phone numbers
Contact information, such as full physical addresses and phone numbers, is no longer included in the results. Instead, the listings present only the city and state locations of businesses. Searchers who want to get contact details now have to click on a business’s name, revealing the Google My Business (GMB) profile.
No flyout business cards or isolated Google My Business links
Google has disabled some forms of one-click access (ones that did not present competitor information). Clicking on a result reveals GMB details, a map, and a list of 19 competitors.
Why did Google change the 3-Pack?
Experts say that this significant change in the Google Local Pack was intended to better suit mobile users. When the 7-Pack appeared on smartphones, it was too large to fit on a single page. The 3-Pack fits, perfect for user-friendliness when searching via mobile.
Can I optimize to make sure I appear in the Google 3-Pack?
Unfortunately, businesses appearing in the Local Pack are location-dependent, with the results changing based on user location. That changeability makes it difficult to optimize for this Google feature. However, see below for some basic optimization guidelines.
Tips to appear in the Google 3-Pack
While optimization is not entirely straightforward, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of making these short lists:
Ensure the Name / address / phone number (NAP) of your business is the same across the internet. Google places a lot of weight on the accuracy and consistency of that core business data. Apply the same principle to any additional information on listing sites.
Businesses should be active on local listing sites to perform well in local search.
Ask for reviews. Positive reviews can be very beneficial for visibility, and the associated ratings can help improve the number of stars that appear with your listing. Make it easy by emailing out a link to write a review to your current customers.
Focus on on-page optimization.
Integrate locally relevant links into your site (such as within your blog).
Garner local backlinks.
A strong presence on social media is beneficial to this aspect of SEO (as it is to SEO generally).
To appear in the Google 3-Pack, you must take substantial steps to improve your local listings web-wide. Use responsive design and keep an eye on continuing algorithmic updates. Integrate yourself with the digital presence of the local community. Create a superior web presence, with relevant and correct information. SEO is incredibly competitive, and it can help to have the expertise of a third-party working on your behalf. For analysis and guidance on the Local Pack and other elements of search engine success, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment today.
Digital marketing consultant with 15+ years' experience. Primarily focused on consulting companies on their digital presence while helping them grow technology for attribution and advertising. Worked with brands and created product roadmaps, created and managed multivariate testing, performed site optimization to increase organic traffic, improved conversion rate on e-commerce sites, and created monetization plans for the largest business websites in the US.