In 2015, Google changed how it displays its top results for local search. It used to be that when you searched for a local business, Google would serve up the top 7 results at the top of the page. This came to be known as the “7-Pack” – and these spots were considered SEO gold by experts. They understood that consumers would be more likely to click on one of those top 7 results because people expect the options Google serves up first to be the best, the most popular or the most trustworthy.
And indeed, businesses whose information popped up in the “7-Pack” did garner more traffic and better SEO results.
But then Google changed things up with their algorithm, as they do, by putting an emphasis on responsive websites. This aligned with their new push to be more mobile-user friendly due to the increase of internet usage and Google searches via smartphones. Responsive web pages were given top priority in Google search result listings – something that is especially important when it comes to local search results. And this affected the prime internet real estate known as the “7-Pack”
The “7-Pack” simply did not display properly on most mobile devices, it was too big. So Google trimmed the “7-Pack” down to a “3-Pack”.
When a local company’s information is retrieved in a search and a user clicks on it they now see tappable icons for a phone, directions, and the company website. Being able to simply tap an icon and immediately get driving directions or a live human being on the phone is how Google is making it easier for mobile users to get stuff done while they are out and about. And it is helping local businesses get found online and get foot traffic in their doors faster.
Google has also made the size of each listing larger and easier to read on smaller mobile screens. Another recent addition now has unique search filters that appear below the map which offer people more criteria to help them narrow their search even more.
These changes have certainly made mobile-users lives much easier. But now that the “3-Pack” is mobile-friendly, a business with a non-responsive website will have a very difficult time getting found in local search on Google.
How Do You Become Part of the Coveted “3-Pack”?
So what are some ways you can help your business get some local mobile search love from Google that will move you into the “3-Pack”?
1. Have a responsive website.
More people are using their mobile phones to search for local businesses while they are out and about. Google ranks responsive pages higher. Period. So if your site is not responsive you are losing out on an opportunity. Time to call your web designer.
2. Update your NAP.
Make sure your Business Name, Address and Phone number is the same on all local search directories as well as your website. Consistency is key. When Google finds your NAP information on several reputable local sites and sees that it is identical this not only increases your credibility with Google, it increases your ranking as well.
3. Get your site listed on local search directories.
Get added to your online local Chamber of Commerce or community bulletin boards. Google wants to give the consumer the best local results possible and finding your company information on several important local directories will increase the likelihood that your small business will beat a large corporation into one of those coveted “3-Pack” slots.
Mobile users have created changes to how local SEO works when it comes to getting seen in a Google search. As small business owners we need to adapt to these changes or we will consistently get lost in the local search shuffle.
When it comes to Google, you need to be mobile-friendly and demonstrate a real connection to your local community. Make sure your website is responsive, get added to trusted local listing sites and check to see that your business info (NAP) is all up-to-date online.