As many of you may have noticed, Google has recently made a few changes to its local searches. Here's a bit more information about the update and what it means for your business.
The biggest change in Google's new local search is that it went from a "7-pack" to a "3-pack." What does this mean? It means that instead of a long list (7 to be exact) of local businesses near you, there is now a shorter list of just 3.
From this 3-pack, you can access a business's website or get directions. However, if you click on the actual local business's name you will not be directed to their website. You will be directed to Google Maps where it then lists multiple businesses near you on the left side of the screen, not just the original 3. So even if your business did not show up in the top 3, you still have a chance to be selected once the larger list shows up or if the searcher clicks the "More ..." button.
Why the change?
It mostly comes down to usability. Google made this change a while ago for mobile devices. The 3-pack fits more advantageously on a mobile device's screen than the 7-pack did. The idea being that Google wants to provide the exact information you need, right when you need it. Their usability testing mobile must have showed very positive results, so they decide to expand the 3-pack to all searches.
The biggest difference is when you get directed to Google Maps. For mobile devices, the same 3-pack that you saw on the original search are the only things you see until you scroll down. However, for desktops, the search widens and you see a list of multiple local businesses near you.
They was business address information is displayed has changed as well. On the original search, the 3-pack only lists what street they are on, not an entire physical address. Even when you are directed to Google Maps and the large list on the left appears, you still only get the street that it is located on.
It is not until you click on the business that you get a full physical address, which pops up to the right of the listings located on the left. Whether you are on a desktop or mobile device, the way to get the full address is almost identical and appears very similar.
Additionally, some search phrases now give you the option of filtering the results by ratings. So, if your Google listing does not have any stars or any reviews, you may want to consider reaching out to happy customers and asking them to leave a review on your listing. Our Review Monitoring service provides an easy way to manage your reviews and earn more of them.
What this means for your business
Since over half of the businesses that were in the 7-pack are no longer showing up in the 3-pack, there will likely be increased competition for who can get in the top 3 spots. If you are part of the 3-pack in the local search, most of your competition has been knocked out with the new update. If you're not currently in the top 3, you may want to learn more about what factors Google considers when determining local rankings. Or you may want to consider enrolling in our Local Listing Booster service which is built to improve your local search presence.
Knowing how to appropriately utilize Google's new 3-pack for local searches can be critical to your business's future. You can learn more about Local SEO in this video.
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