What is Google’s Local 3-Pack and How Can You Use It to Rank?
While digital marketing has been the cornerstone of running a successful local business for at least a decade, its importance has grown manifold in 2020.
According to research, the COVID-19 lockdown has pushed internet use by a whopping 70%!
And that’s not all.
While the lockdown has begun to ease across many states, people are still spending an astounding amount of time browsing the web for local content/products/services.
If you’ve been overlooking the importance of digitalizing your business, you may want to jump on the bandwagon. And while adopting digitalization is a great way to get started, it’s not enough.
According to Forbes, 75% of internet users never scroll past the first SERP (search engine result page).
If your content isn’t optimized, engaging, and gripping, it’s most likely to show up on the 12th, 13th or even 40th SERP. With an average attention span of eight seconds, people barely glance over the first page, let alone scour the remaining SERPs—so you better start optimizing for the Google Local 3 Pack.
What do you do to stand out from the crowd and make a stellar first impression?
It’s simple. You optimize your content for the Google 3-Pack.
Sounds odd, doesn’t it?
We’ll help break things down so you can leverage the 3-Pack to rank higher on Google Maps.
Let’s dive in!
What is the Local SEO 3-Pack?
Simply put, the Google 3-Pack is a listing of the top three search results for a local search.
While a regular search doesn’t include geographic keywords, a local search commonly includes the phrases “near me,” “close to me,” or “in [location].”
For instance, if you search for “Italian restaurants in Manhattan,” you’ll receive the following Google 3-Pack:
Similarly, if you search for “barbershop in Downtown Los Angeles,” you’ll see the following Google 3-Pack:
Notice how the 3-Pack covers every base to give internet users comprehensive—albeit concise—information about the most relevant, popular, and reputable local search results.
With a simple search, people can instantly access the following information about the top three businesses:
- Phone number
- Introductory image
- Map with personalized directions
- Link to website
- Number of reviews
- Key features (e.g. dine-in, delivery, curbside pickup, etc.)
If they choose to engage with the listing, they can view even more details, including:
- Additional images
- Popular times
- Detailed critic reviews and testimonials
- Booking options
In short, the Google 3-Pack is an efficient, accurate, and time-saving gold mine for local searchers.
Over the years, Google reduced the number of topmost local searches from seven to five. In 2015, the pack was further condensed by reducing five listings to three for enhanced convenience, ease, and relevance.
It’s no surprise that the search results on the first page of Google generate a whopping 92% of organic traffic. In fact, the first result in the Google 3-Pack enjoys an enviable 34.36% CTR (click-through rate).
Customers are less likely to engage with results that show up underneath the Google 3-Pack. While search results on the first page that fall outside the 3-Pack still generate a lot of traffic, the second, third, and subsequent pages suffer from diminishing traffic generation.
That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the most effective and whip-smart SEO strategies to help your business rank higher on Google Maps, so it can rank in Google Local 3-Packs.
How to Optimize for the Google 3-Pack?
1. Check Where You Currently Stand
It should come as no surprise that the Google 3-Pack appears 93% of the time when people run a local search.
If you run a local business, optimizing your content to rank locally on Google is essential. And checking where your business currently stands is a great way to kick things off.
While you may feel compelled to dive into the deep end of 3-Pack optimization, forgoing prior research could end up doing more harm than good.
Instead, we suggest consulting with SEO experts to determine whether your business appears in the top 20 local search results. This will help streamline and refine the optimization strategy for your business.
2. Claim, Fill, and Optimize Your Google My Business Listing
Leveraging Google My Business is one of the most effective ways to rank in Google Local 3-Packs.
As Google’s own in-house platform, Google My Business makes it much easier for customers to find, access, and engage with your business.
If you haven’t claimed your free listing yet, we suggest tackling that task first by clicking here. Simply enter your company’s name or add your business to Google if it isn’t already in the directory.
Once you’ve claimed your listing, take your time to fill out the required information. Take special care to ensure accuracy and relevance, as this information will potentially appear in the Google 3-Pack.
You’ll be requested to share your company’s:
- Phone number
- Website URL
- Industry category
- Business hours
- Types of payment accepted
The more information you provide, the greater your chances of showing up on the Google 3-Pack.
Ensure NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency to lend legitimacy and credibility to your business. Any deviations could reduce the authority of your business and prevent customers from accessing information or finding your listing altogether.
Once you’ve filled in the relevant information, the real work begins.
Optimizing and updating your listing are two of the most impactful ways to help your business climb SERPs.
Share high-resolution images and upload photos on a weekly basis to ensure relevance and keep your audience engaged. According to Google, businesses with photos enjoy 42% more requests for directions to their location and 35% more clicks to their website.
Cover different areas of your business, including the storefront and variegated interior angles.
Make sure important details like the hours of operation are up to date. Maximizing relevance will go a long way in improving the visitor-to-lead conversion rate.
We suggest browsing through our earlier blog titled “How to Optimize Google My Business Listing and Leverage It for More Sales” for more insights.
3. Master the Art of On-Page SEO to Rank Locally on Google
Neglecting on-page SEO is one of the most common mistakes that land small-scale local businesses in hot water.
Google uses over 200 unique factors in their algorithm to rank websites. Creating a strong on-page SEO strategy can easily help you check most of these off your list!
For example, most small business owners don’t know that they can increase their chances of appearing in Google 3-Pack by improving their website’s loading time.
According to a recent study, pages that load quickly rank significantly higher on SERPs. In fact, 79% of customers who have trouble with a website’s loading time admit that they won’t return to the site in the future.
Here are some easy strategies to help speed up your website:
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Reduce server response time
- Opt for the right host (shared hosting, VPS hosting, dedicated server)
- Enable browser caching
- Compress images and optimize files
- Use a CDN (content delivery network)
In addition, optimize your content by using relevant keywords, title tags, meta description, headlines, header tags, short descriptive URLs, and alt text.
These strategies will go a long way in helping your business rank in Google Local 3-Pack.
4. Attract a Plethora of High-Quality, Positive Reviews for Your Business
If you’re just starting off, figuring out how to optimize for the Google 3-Pack can be tricky. Reviews make things easier.
While leveraging reviews may sound like one of the least actionable strategies to help your business show up on the Google 3-Pack, it’s surreptitiously one of the most effective.
In fact, a whopping 84% of customers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations!
Click on any listing in the Google 3-Pack, and you’ll come across a plethora of critic and customer reviews.
Here’s an extended view of a high-end restaurant (The Modern) that showed up in the Google 3-Pack:
In a nutshell, Google loves reviews.
Because customers trust them and heavily rely on them!
If your business has a high number of positive reviews, you’ll rank in the top 3 Maps results. This ranking, in turn, will help you climb up SERPs and earn a spot in the Google 3-Pack.
Remember, Google is constantly vetting relevant businesses to find the most reputable options that help customers have a great experience.
If your business has a poor ranking of 2.6/5, for example, the chances are that you’ll get stuck in the back end of SERPs.
Turn that around by boosting your ranking and you’ll instantly maximize your chances of showing up in the Google 3-Pack.
But how do you go about this?
By requesting reviews.
According to a recent survey, over 97% of customers engage with online reviews for local businesses. While customers prioritize reading reviews, they also understand the importance of offering reviews.
Here are some ways you can earn quality reviews for your business:
- Send a courteous and engaging email to customers, requesting a review for products/services they recently used. Opting for a personalized approach will increase your chances of receiving a timely and positive review.
- Create a “Review Us” page on your website. When customers interact with the link, they should be redirected to your Google Review URL. This is a great way to ensure the reviews increase your chances of taking a spot in Google’s 3-Pack.
- Use a QR code creatively to redirect customers to your Google Review page. Click here to generate a QR code using a free tool.
5. Create Engaging, Unique, and Value-Added Local Content
Creating local content and tweaking product/service pages by incorporating local keywords is a powerful way to rank in the top 3 Maps results.
We suggest using Google Keyword Planner or getting in touch with SEO experts to identify and effectively use local keywords.
In addition, create content around local events, holidays, news, and trending topics to ensure you reach a wide local audience. Optimizing your content for local search will ultimately help your business rank higher on Google Maps and tap into diverse local demographics.
Of course, don’t lose sight of ensuring that the content is engaging, informative, and compelling. No matter how well your local SEO strategy may be, producing subpar content that doesn’t strike a chord with your target audience will take you back to square one.
Instead, fuse quality with local SEO to create and execute a winning content marketing strategy.
We suggest focusing on creating high-quality and optimized:
- Guest posts
- Regional pages
- Product pages
- Service pages
- Press releases
- Infographics and instructographics
6. Claim External Review Sites
Popular external review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Tripadvisor, Trustpilot, and Yellowpages are vital sources of traffic for your business. Each review on an external review site signals to Google to boost SERP rankings for your business.
We recommend browsing through each platform’s specific review guidelines to ensure compliance.
Once the reviews start pouring in, you’ll notice an increase in audience engagement and retention. Consistent positive reviews will help your business climb SERPs and earn a spot on the Google 3-Pack.
7. Earn Local Backlinks From Websites With High Domain Authority
Link building is undeniably one of the most effective ways to get your business on the map.
Simply put, link building is the process of acquiring backlinks from third-party websites.
For instance, if a non-competitor in your industry links to your content or product/service pages, you earn a backlink.
Why is this important?
Earning a valuable backlink from a website with a high domain authority is a surefire way to attract quality traffic. As their readers are redirected to your content, you’ll successfully manage to tap into a wide audience base.
While this means more revenue, it also means higher chances of breaking into the Google 3-Pack in the long run!
Here are some advanced link building tips and tricks to help you get started!
8. Create a Mobile-Friendly Website
78% of all local mobile searches result in a purchase. As smartphones become the epicenter of the modern world, creating a mobile-friendly website is imperative.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’ll fail to target the large majority of Gen Z, millennials, and Gen X customers.
We suggest opting for clean yet appealing graphics, user-friendliness, and eye-catching CTAs (call-to-actions).
In fact, mobile-friendliness also helps Google determine the quality and legitimacy of your business. If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, there’s no reason for Google to include it in the 3-Pack. The last thing Google wants is to receive negative feedback from customers who interacted with a business in the 3-Pack that didn’t have a mobile-friendly website.
10. Local SEO Services and Google Map Optimization Services for the Win!
Consulting the pros is a tried-and-tested way of optimizing for the Google 3-Pack.
If you’ve been dissatisfied with your SERP rankings, we can help turn things around.
As the leading digital marketing experts in Los Angeles, we offer expert local SEO services and Google Maps optimization services across the globe.
Whether you run a small business, recently launched a start-up, or can’t seem to effectively market a large company, we can help you get started.
Our SEO experts have extensive experience in helping clients climb SERPs and earn a spot on the Google 3-Pack. We’ll help your business rank higher on Google Maps so you can reap the benefits of high-quality traffic, high conversions, low customer attrition, and great sales.
Call us at 855-444-4777 to get started!
We also offer award-winning paid marketing, content marketing, website design and development, social media management, and reputation management services.