Previously, most businesses’ search engine optimization (SEO) goal was to be ranked in the first seven local search result. This top seven result were usually grouped in a display panel, known as the 7-pack, at the top of SERPs and enabled ranked businesses to gain more traffic and increase sales. However, in addition to recent changes to how their algorithm ranks local search result, Google has also cut down the 7-pack display to a 3-pack display for local results.
Furthermore, besides the introduction of the new Google’s Local 3-pack display, which shows just the top three local search result, the appearance of the 3-pack panel is also different from the 7-pack panel. For instance, the display of businesses’ phone numbers has been replaced with a tap button for calling a business. Additional features, such as businesses’ working hours, addresses and Google+ page ratings have also been added. However, the presence of businesses on local directories, rather than Google+ reviews, is the criteria for ranking.
Why the 7-Pack was changed to the 3-Pack Display
As more and more internet users access the web via their smartphones, Google is doing all it can to serve mobile users better. Thus, a change of the 7-pack display, which was too large to fit onto one page on mobile devices, was required. The newly introduced 3-pack display is great for meeting the needs of local searchers using mobile devices. Google further justifies the cut down from 7-pack to 3-pack with the claim that the last four results were not getting much traffic anyway.
How Businesses Can Get into the Google Local 3-Pack Panel
Getting into the local 3-pack panel is one of the practical results most businesses covet for their SEO efforts. To achieve this goal, businesses must have a consistent and correct business name, addresses, and phone numbers across the different directories where the information is listed. This is because Google places a high importance on listing and showing searchers the correct business contact information.
In addition to having accurate contact information, businesses should also demonstrate their connection to the local community. This can be done by being active on local listing websites, including uncommon directories, such as community boards, local society bulletin, and local chamber of commerce listings. Google wants searchers to get results that are truly within their location and uses local directories to determine relevant results. Therefore, the more a business appears on these local listings, the better it would perform in local search ranking. Thus, a small business that is on several local listings can beat a bigger business, in the same location, to appear on the 3-pack panel.
Further more, as the number of searchers who use mobile devices to surf the internet grows larger, it is important for businesses to have a mobile-friendly website. The “Mobilegeddon” update changed the ranking criteria so that mobile responsive pages are listed at the top of mobile searches.Therefore, businesses websites with mobile responsive designs have a higher chance of getting into the 3-pack panel.
In conclusion, businesses should step up their SEO efforts to appeal to mobile users, in order to get into the local 3-pack panel, to gain more traffic and increase sales.