You may have noticed that when searching for a local service in your community, that Google is now showing only three businesses at a time with their Google local and map service. In prior years, at least seven services could show up depending on how many listings were available.
For example, if I search for “Sedona Exterminators”, this is what I see.
As you may notice, not only are there only 3 companies showcased the phone numbers have also been stripped from the preview and you must click on your choice to gather more information.
From here you will see a pop-out card for that business along with the phone number and any reviews.
So what are the pros and cons of this change? For companies that depend on showing up well at the top in these listings, it is a bit disheartening. But, from research we have conducted this is what we have discovered.
- “While the 3 Pack reduces the opportunity to show up in local display on the front page, the total local opportunity may not be less as ALL links that previously went into disparate directions now are shown in the Local Finder”, says Mike Blumenthal. The local finder is what your search engine defaults to when you type in the name of a city, neighborhood or community + the service you are seeking. Even if you aren’t using the name of the city or neighborhood, search engines will read your ISP or if you are on your phone, your GPS signal to determine how to deliver local results to you. This isn’t as reliable as your wifi server could be bouncing from another state or city. The end result is this, the roll over that used to produce the Knowledge Graph now goes to the Local Finder giving local companies more opportunities to appear organically.
- Links to your Google + account are no longer showing with your map listing. Google has separated out their Google + accounts from their Google Maps, they call this breaking Google into streams. Google will also be removing shell pages, those auto created pages for non-verified listings from Google+.
- Certainly those who are showing up in the 3 listings will receive more traffic. Specialists are testing and weighing whether this is a fact, but it is human nature to hurry and get in and get out of a search and not be bothered with deeper investigation of what one is seeking.
What Can You Do To Improve Your Local Listing
The companies showing up in the 3 Pack are utilizing or have been utilizing Best SEO Practices over the years. Building your company’s SEO either takes a lot of money up front or a little money over a lot of time. Here are a few things to focus on:
Linking – Keep finding ways to build links back to your site from related industries or highly rated companies. This is not an easy task and often requires memberships, sponsorships and blogging. The one with the highest quality links usually gets the biggest boost. A rating system that is close to what Google uses called a Page Trust and Domain Trust factor, which is a ranking between 1-100, with 100 being the best, will help you evaluate where your website falls.
You can easily check your own website’s score using this rank checker software, which is a free source. You must copy and paste your URL in full for it to work.
On Site SEO – These are the basics of SEO. Make sure each of your website’s pages have a unique keyword rich URL, a title tag and description tag that best describes the page it is on and is also unique to your other pages. Photos that are named with descriptors rather than image325 is important and following that are unique keyword rich titles and alt tags. Diverse interior links with keyword rich anchor text is also important. This interior linking does not serve as navigation but purely for resourcing.
Online Reviews – Because your online reviews are showing up in your local listing, having reviews will make it pop. Reviews are important to qualify your listing to even show up. Asking your clients to leave a review for you on various review sites after conducting business with them will be helpful.
Make Sure You Have A Listing – This should go without saying, but make sure your business has a Google Local Listing. If you see one showing on the map but it isn’t connected to your brand, claim that listing. Here is an article on Claiming Google Listings.
Continue maintaining your website as well as your Google Places Listing and the above suggestions, and hopefully you will be among the three-pack listing.