Local SEO optimization has long been an essential practice for businesses targeting local customers. Whether you run a florist, a restaurant, or any other local business, you’ll want to make it as visible as possible to your customers.
And these days, that means appearing in the local search results.
As you probably know already, Google regularly shakes up the SEO world with its algorithm updates. And one big change happened to search back in August 2015 when it changed it’s 7-Pack to a 3-Pack.
What does this mean for your business? Let’s take a look.
What Exactly Is a 7-Pack and 3-Pack?
The 7-Pack was the name given to the seven local listings that showed up in Google search. For example, if someone searched for a “New York restaurant,” they would be presented with seven results for local restaurants at the top of the results.
On August 7th, Google changed this to 3 results, and it is now referred to as the 3-Pack. Business2Business has some more good info on the 3-Pack, so you may want to take a look over this.
Why Is the 3-Pack So Important?
The 3-Pack is positioned in one of the best spots in the search results. It is prime real estate for any business that appears in it. Getting listed here is great because it’s highly visible, it’s at the top of the page, and it stands out.
In short, being in the 3-Pack is great for local businesses, helping you to stand out from your competition and reach more customers.
Changes to the 3-Pack
While the 7-Pack has become the 3-Pack, that wasn’t the only change. Google has taken the opportunity to make some more changes, for example:
- When the searcher clicks on the business name, this expands to reveal more info including the address and phone number.
- While the 7-Pack included Google+ links, now the link to the business’s website is more prominent. This is great news because more people will now visit your website rather than your Google+ page.
- While the 7-Pack listed the phone numbers of the businesses, the 3-Pack only has their addresses. In their place, the store hours are now displayed.
Reviews and stars are still the same, showing up as they did before, and Maps still has a big focus.
How to Get the Most from Local Search
Local search should be a primary concern for any business with local customers. And while being in the 3-Pack is a great thing, and something you will want to aim towards, the results are based on location. This means that you only stand a chance of showing up if the searcher is located near to your business.
Even so, searchers can then click on the link to search more businesses, and this is where your local SEO efforts will really pay off.
You can increase your chances of getting into the 3-Pack and the other listings by following some good local SEO practices. You can do these yourself, or you can hire an SEO firm to help you, which can give you more time to focus on your own business.
Firstly, sign up with Google My Business and provide as much detail as possible about your business. This will also get you listed in Maps. Include a description of your business and double-check that all of your details are correct. Add images and your logo, and make sure your NAP (Name, Address and Phone Number) are the same on any other online directories.
One thing you will really want to do is start building reviews. Although they will not necessarily help you to rank in the 3-Pack, they can give you the edge over your competition.
You should also star to build backlinks, and especially local backlinks. These could be from authority sites like other local businesses and the local news site.
The Moz Local Learning Center is an excellent resource for finding out more about local search optimization, so take a look.
Don’t Take Your Listing For Granted
Once you manage to start ranking in the local results, whether in the 3-Pack or in any of the other listed businesses, don’t assume that you will stay there. You need to make a consistent effort with your local SEO to ensure you remain optimized to appear in local search.
This is where hiring an SEO specialist can help, because they can take the work out of maintaining your SEO efforts while you focus on running your business. But however you go about it, make sure you keep focusing on your local SEO to ensure you get as much visibility as possible in the local search results.
Stephan Reed is the lead content writer for ForeFront Web, located in Dublin, Ohio. He began his path to digital marketing with a print journalism degree from Bowling Green State University & a few years of experience as an editor for various Columbus magazines. He combines his passion for search engine optimization, creative writing & human interaction to develop his own effective & unique brand of digital marketing.