The “3 pack” is the most coveted real estate of local SEO. When someone searches for a location-related keyword, (e.g. dog groomer Portland), it’s the 3 first listings that show in local search results:
And in 93% of searches with local intent, the Google 3-pack appears at the top of search results. That’s a place you want your business to be.
Here’s how you can rank in the 3 pack and improve your clickthrough rate in local search.
3 Pack Rank Factors
There are a lot of great studies out there that break down the individual factors that could affect rank. Personally, I’m a fan of taking it straight from the horse’s mouth. Here are the factors Google says determine your local rank:
- Relevance -- How well does your local listing match what people are searching for?
- Distance -- How far is your business from the location term used in search?
- Prominence -- How well-known is your business?
Read on to learn just what you can do to optimize for these factors and help your clickthrough rate in the process.
Google My Business
Probably the most essential thing you’ll need to rank in local search is a complete and accurate Google My Business profile. All the information you fill out in your profile will affect rankings and could appear in results:
Here’s what you should do:
- Enter complete data
The more detailed information you can include in your profile, the better. Include your store hours, physical address, phone number, and category. Make sure you select the category most relevant to your business.
For example if you’re a Chinese takeout place, you don’t want to appear under “Chinese restaurant” -- that’s too general. Instead go for “Chinese takeout.” This will help improve your listing’s relevance in search results.
- Verify your location(s)
Make sure you verify your location so you can appear in Google Maps and Google Search when people are nearby your business. This is how Google factors your distance for search results. Here’s how to add or claim your business listing.
- Clean up your NAP
Google will compare your name, address and phone number listing (NAP) to how it appears on other pages around the web. The more accurate your listings are, the better your business can rank in local listings.
So make sure your NAP on Yelp and other business listings exactly match your NAP on Google My Business.
The Benefits Of Organic SEO
Having a complete Google My Business profile helps you with your relevance and distance factors, but what about prominence?
Prominence can refer to how well-known a business is. So a famous museum or landmark might rank well. But there’s still a lot you can do to improve your business’ prominence in local search results:
From Google itself:
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
So this is where good, old-fashioned organic SEO comes in handy. Improve your position in regular search results, and improve your prominence in local search. Here’s some great advice on how to prepare for organic SEO in 2017.
What About CTR?
Getting your business in that all-so-special real estate at the top of search results is the hard part. The even harder part is actually getting people to click on it.
And I’m sorry to break it to you, but it’s actually a two-click process.
Here’s what I mean:
Say I search for “vegan restaurants Portland Oregon.” Here are the 3-pack results:
You see reviews, price range, address, opening time and a short description of each restaurant. But when I click on “Blossoming Lotus,” it doesn’t take me to their website.
Instead I see this:
Yep, it’s a more detailed overview of the restaurant and its competitors. And if I X out of Blossoming Lotus’ profile, I see a map of other vegan restaurants near me.
When you think about it, this is actually good news for marketers optimizing for local SEO. It means even if you don’t make the 3-pack, your business still has a fighting chance to be seen by searchers.
With all that in mind, here’s what you should focus on to improve CTR:
Google Reviews are prominent in 3-pack results, and will definitely influence whether someone clicks on your business or another.
Once they click through to the more detailed profile of your business, people are presented with a detailed review summary, and actual snippets of recent customer reviews:
So make it a goal to garner positive reviews of all types, but especially Google Reviews.
Business photos also appear in your detailed local listing after the second click:
So be sure you upload some nice ones that show off the assets of your business! Here are some details on how to add photos to Google My Business.
At the bottom of your company profile, Google also displays regular organic results for the search query:
So again, this is just another area where organic SEO matters. Create pages that target local search keywords. Here’s a great resource on how to get started.
Google Local Search is changing all the time. They’re offering all sorts of helpful information for searchers in local listings, and it’s up to you, the business owner, to keep up.
For example, if you own a restaurant, Google local search results might include your critic reviews:
If you’re a medical professional, you can use Google’s “Make an appointment” feature in your business listing:
When people click, it will take them to your appointment booking landing page.
To best keep up on other new factors that could affect people’s CTR, I recommend regularly using Google Local search yourself. Search for your competitors, and view the most popular listings in the 3 pack. What features are they taking advantage of?
As Google Local search continues to change and evolve, keep up on the latest trends on Search Engine People and other Google news sites around the web.