In recent years we have seen drastic changes to search engine result pages, due to smartphones, and in particular, how we search on them. There has been a steadily increasing trend of users searching with local intent while moving from one place to another.

Nowadays, our smartphones can deliver location information to Google; giving us location-relevant results right in the palm of our hands.

Searches like ‘cafes close to me’ or ‘bottle’o near me’ are amongst the most popular searches carried about by users on Google, making increasingly apparent the need for local businesses to optimise their information for this purpose.

With a stark three spaces available in Google’s ‘local pack’ displaying at the top of search results pages, there is more pressure for businesses to optimise and tighten their digital marketing strategy and incorporate local SEO in a variety of ways, including creating a Google My Business (GMB) listing.

So, what is Google’s local three-pack?
Google’s local SEO 3 pack, is a list containing the top three organic results which display for searches with local intent. The results display in tandem with a map indicating the locations of these three businesses. A snapshot of information for each business (such as PSA) appears beneath, including links to:

  • Contact each business
  • Access business websites
  • Directions to business addresses

In recent years Google introduced an opportunity for customers to leave reviews and post photographs – displayed next to your business name – providing customers with an avenue to be heard and influence how users see your business.

Why do I need to be seen in the local pack?
Simply put, just being featured in the top three is a sure way to local organic traffic through to your website. Don’t just take out word for it; this is informed by research which indicates that the click-through rate for featured business is much higher.

Users often click on the first result they find, meaning that if you run a local business, a feature in the local three-pack is critical to the success of your SEO strategy.

How do I increase my opportunity of being featured?
An optimised Google My Business listing is a crucial step towards getting featured. These days, it is vital for your listing to display accurate information, this means current addresses, phone numbers and names. Google picks up all the consistencies and inconsistencies of the information relating to your business, including your site and other locations across the net.

Bear in mind that if Google cannot identify accurate information that relates to your business, they will instead display the information they think is relevant. In essence, this can be detrimental to your business.

In addition, there are a few extra things Google has shared which can give you the leverage to gain further exposure for your business:

  • Confirm your business’ exact location with a Google My Business code. The code is sent by post to your business address
  • Add photos of your business
  • Encourage your customers and visitors to leave reviews on Google

Of course, there are a variety of other SEO factors that can impact your local SEO and organic traffic levels. Having a mobile-friendly website with relevant local links can do wonders to increase the likelihood of being featured.

As for now? It is a better time than any to invest your time in optimising your site, business information and listings to have the best possible chance of being featured with Google’s local three-pack for free.