Is your business ranking in the Google 3 pack listing? Achieving a coveted spot in the 3 pack is a quick way to start pulling in some traffic and getting customers for your small, locally-based business.
We’ll cover the ranking signals you need to focus on to get to the top, but first let’s cover some basics.
What is the Google 3 Pack Listing?
The Google 3 Pack (aka the local pack), is the three business listings just below the map on a search engine result page (SERP).
The best part? These are only local listings.
That’s right, you can get an advantage over the big, nation-wide companies by getting into the local pack.
What makes the Google 3 pack so awesome is that it is the first non-advertisement space on Google’s SERP. It’s the best spot you can be without paying per click.
Difference Between the Google 3 Pack Listing and Organic Results
There’s not much difference in the way of how your website ranks for either the 3 pack or organically. There is, however, a huge difference in where it’s placed in the SERPs.
The 3 pack is just below the paid advertisements (PPC), although sometimes it has a single ad contained within it, but above the organic search results.
Local Pack Ranking Signals
Sometimes called ranking signals and others ranking indicators. Either way, these are the cues Google and other search engines look for when ranking websites in their SERPs.
There are some signals you can control or have direct influence on and others not so much.
If it’s local you bet your Google My Business (GMB) profile will be tied to it. There’s no wonder why this is one of the top ranking signals for the Google 3 pack listing.
Note: Google My Business is now known as your Google Business Profile (GBP) as Google renamed the service. Not much has changed, however, you now manage your GBP directly from the SERPs or Google Maps.
For the sake of simplicity, we’ll continue to call it GMB or Google My Business throughout this article.
Optimizing your GMB includes updating your business name, address, and phone number (aka NAP). Just like any other directory, which we’ll cover more shortly, you want to ensure all of your basic business information is updated and correct.
This builds trust and trust is the epitome of Google search.
Since we’re on the topic of trust, off-page SEO (link building) is an indicator that other websites trust you. The more trustworthy the site is, the more signal it provides Google.
Think of it this way, would you ask a random person on the street for recommendations for a restaurant, or would you go to Yelp? Honestly, there are arguements for both, but in this case Yelp has the reputation. You don’t even know the random person on the street or if they’ve ever ate at the place.
Building links is critical for ranking in both the Google 3 pack listing and organic results.
We’re starting to see a theme with this trust thing.
Reviews! Everyone loves them, so why not Google? Don’t think that it’s all about reviews, though. You’ll see plenty of listings with either a few or zero reviews.
Not just 5 star reviews, either. Let your customers give you natural reviews and have them thoroughly describe the service they received. If it’s all beautiful 5 star ratings it may come off as unnatural.
Whenever possible, try to capture great reviews from your past clients. You can send them a link directly to your GMB profile requesting a review by using the format below.
Finally, something you can control! On-page SEO activities include the optimization of your content to give clear signals to the search engines. On-page SEO is, in my opinion, one of the easiest ways to get your business on the Google 3 pack listing.
Everything from your meta descriptions, to your H1 tags, to the readability of your content. All of this falls under on-page SEO.
You can get on-page SEO right with a simple WordPress plugin such as Yoast.
Remember when we mentioned NAP? This is why.
Citations are other NAP directories such as YP.com or EZLocal are a great way to publish your business to the web. Google trusts (some of) these directories to add legitimacy to your business.
You’ll want consistency between all of your NAP listings as well. For example, we list our business as Arbor Green Design, however, if we listed it as Arbor Green Web Design it may flag as a separate business.
Obviously there’s more factors than just the name, but you get the point. Consistency!
Just like it sounds, how are people interacting with your business?
Behavioral signals include click-through rate, online check-ins, dwell time, bounce rate, click to call rates, etc. Things you might not think you can control, but you can.
There are several factors that you can control that affect these signals. Everything from how fast your page loads to how easy is it for users to find what they’re looking for on your page all plays a role in user behavior signals.
This is why we preach beautiful, elegant, and professionally designed websites both make you look good and help with SEO rankings – especially with the Google 3 pack listing!
This is out of your control, but nonetheless it’s a ranking signal.
Personalization doesn’t refer to you as the business owner personalizing your website or content, but instead the user’s preferences conducting the search.
Locations is a major component to personalization. For example, you pull out your phone and search auto repair shops (you don’t even need to put in the “near me” or your city) and you’ll see the Google 3 pack listing centric to your area.
Google is pretty smart, I might add.
Last, and almost negligible, social engagements on the various social media platforms.
I’ll definitely take flak for saying it’s almost negligible, but unless you’re trying to squeeze out every bit of rank juice to get your business in the number 1 spot, I wouldn’t focus on this.
This doesn’t mean likes, shares, retweets, comments, etc. aren’t good for your business. They are! But that is more branding than local SEO for your business.
It’s fairly clear-cut that achieving a good position in the Google 3 pack listing is healthy for your business. Focusing your efforts on the optimization of the ranking signals – in a natural way of course – will help get your business in the top three spots. Your SEO efforts will pay in both the local pack and organic results.
If you’re looking for some help getting your business listed, shoot me a note or give me a call and I would love to help you out with it.