The Google Local 3 Pack is valuable real estate for local businesses. It’s the first place many consumers look on a Google search and it’s become more competitive to get on the map in recent years.
Before the summer of 2016, the 3 pack was a 7 pack. It was a lot easier to show up at the top of search results.
We have seen considerable ‘3 pack angst’ since that change. But before you go out and buy expensive ads, you should be aware of the ways of increasing your chances of getting on the 3 pack.
This article assumes you have correctly verified your listing and you have an actual bricks and mortar office. Google has become increasingly adept at striking out virtual offices or meeting locations that lack signage and staff.
In late 2017, Local SEO Guide carried out research based on 200 ranking factors impacting100,000 businesses.
The importance of reviews is no surprise but the new info here is how businesses can use keywords in Google reviews to improve their ranking.
Reviews will help the business show up in the greatly valued ‘Three pack.’ However, it’s worth noting that your organic strength is the number 1 factor in how likely you will show in the three pack. In other words, good website content is as important as ever before if not more so. The study states:
“If you are winning in local organic search, you are most likely winning in local pack searches also. In fact, ranking in local organic searches was the #1 high correlating factor with ranking in packs … If you want to be in local packs, the best thing you can do is crush it in organic search.”
Reviews are a very important driving factor of ranking in Google My Business pack results. Google sees reviews as easier to trust than backlinks. Number of reviews with keywords followed by cities are the most important ranking factor.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR A LAW FIRM OR ANOTHER BUSINESS?
If you are working with clients or customers on a review, it’s better to link it to a location and suggest certain keywords connected to your business rather than a general view in which the client says he or she was happy with your service.
Engagement is also important with Google My Business. Google clearly uses engagement to order search results, and local packs are no different. So features like photos are content for your users to engage with. It’s important to reply to Google reviews.
The number of reviews businesses receive is increasingly important. If your business has a number of locations, make sure to concentrate most of the reviews on the main office.
You should resist the temptation to go crazy with your review strategy and to send out a mass mailing asking your client base to review you. If you have 30 Google reviews that have been accrued over two years, and you get another 30 in a month, it will send out a red flag to Google. Google that may note the review as spam, remove reviews and threaten the listing itself.
If Google suspends your Google My Business listing, this can be hard to retrieve and may severely impact your online presence.