Google local 3 pack ranking is of crucial importance for local businesses. Let me just clarify what I mean by “Google local 3 pack ranking.” I’m talking about being ranked among the top three companies in the Google My Business listings for a particular keyword or search term. To give you a quick example, imagine that someone is looking for a personal injury lawyer in San Diego. They would probably google something like, “personal injury lawyer San Diego” or accident lawyer San Diego.” In the old days, before Google introduce the GMB listings, the law firm that ranked no. 1 on the first page of Google for those keywords got the lion’s share of website visitors.
That has changed completely. Now, it’s the three law firms that show up in the Google My Business listings that get the great majority of website visitors, and phone calls. Ranking no. 1 in the so called organic results no longer has anywhere near the value it once had. Read on to learn the five reasons that Google local 3 pack rankings are crucial to a local service provider’s online success.
Reason 1: The first page of Google has changed dramatically
The Google SERP (i.e. search engine results pages) have changed significantly over the years, especially when it comes to how the first page of Google looks for local business searches. We only need to talk about the first page here because very few people bother to go past it. In fact, the links on the first page get 92% of all clicks. In the past, ranking number 1 in Google’s organic search results was the holy grail of SEO because the website ranked there got the majority of the traffic. That’s not surprising because it was sitting at the very top of the page. A 2006 study showed that the top ranking site got a click through rate of 42.3% but one in the number 2 spot got a CTR of only 11.92%.
That’S all changed for local businesses. When people do local searches now, they’ll probable see two or three Adwords ads at the top of the page. The next thing they’ll see is the three companies listed in the Google My business block. This means that they will have to scroll down below the fold to even see the first “organic” result. Not only that, the first result will most likely be the review site Yelp. The second and third spots are often occupied by business directories like Angie’s List or Thumbtack. But even if a local business is able to get their website to the top of the organic results, it will still be below the fold. Therefore, not many people will click through to the website, especially if they are using a mobile device.
Reason 2: The Google Local 3 Pack really stands out
If you take a look at the screenshot at the bottom of this article, you’ll see just how much Google’s local 3 pack stands out. There’s a map at the top with red arrows marking the locations of the top three companies and below that, the GMB (Google My Business) listings of those same three companies which include prominent links to their websites and directions to the place of business. You can also see their Google reviews, along with a star rating. (For some types of service providers like plumbers and remodelers who go out to their customers homes, a photo of their work shows up, instead of the website and directions links.)
Reason 3: Google My Business listings are mobile optimized
The biggest advantage to ranking in the Google local 3 pack is the amount of phone calls you get from mobile users. More and more, people search the web on mobile devices rather than on traditional computers. In the U.S., as of 2017, 57% of all online traffic is from smartphones and tablets. Consumers are particularly likely to use a mobile device when searching for local businesses. Added to those stats, the fact that the GMB listing shows the company phone number to mobile users–which they can tap to call–means that being in the top 3 generates lots of phone calls. You’ll get phone calls from non-mobile users too, but especially from mobile users.
Reason 4: Review sites and business directories outrank company websites
As I mentioned above, the organic search results for local service providers are now taken up by review sites and business directories, to a large extent. You’ll see Yelp in the no. 1 spot, more often that not. There are only ten available spots on the first page, as far as the organic results go. It’s not unusual to see as many as seven of those spots occupied by review sites and business directories. That leaves very few spots for company websites. If you take a look at the screenshot below, you’ll see that seven out of the ten available spots are taken up by review sites and niche-specific business directories. That example is for personal injury lawyers, but the same applies to most local niches.
There are two things to understand about this situation. First, it’s very difficult to rank a website on the first page of Google now because you have to compete not just with your competitors but also with the review sites and business directories. Second, even if you do rank high on the first page, that won’t translate into a lot of website visitors. The review sites and business directories will get more clicks than your website.
Reason 5: Google My Business listings prominently display your Google reviews
Having your Google local 3 pack ranking–for a large number of keywords–plus plenty of positive Google reviews is the killer combination. Social proof in the form of a 5 star reputation has become an essential part of your online success. For some types of businesses, particularly restaurants, Yelp reviews are very important. And TripAdvisor reviews have a big impact on how many reservations a particular hotel gets. Google reviews, on the other hand, impact every kind of business. Positive Google reviews can have a huge, positive impact if you rank in the local 3 pack because they are displayed front and center to potential customers/clients who are searching for the products/services you provide.
Reason 6: You can often rank for multiple keywords
One drawback of traditional SEO is that it’s difficult to rank on the first page of Google for a large number of keywords. What keywords you rank for is closely related to your title tag and the content on your homepage. That’s limiting because the optimal title tag length is 60 characters or less and you can’t target a large number of keywords with your homepage content and have be at all readable.
In the case of Google local 3 pack ranking though, once you rank in the top three for one keyword, you often rank for a lot of other ones too. That’s not a given, but if you choose the right categories for your Google My Business listing and do everything else right, it tends to happen that way. I have clients whose GMB listings rank in the top three for many dozens of keywords. If you have any experience with local Google rankings, you’ll be aware of just how important that is. Most local keywords don’t get a high volume of searches, even if you are in a large city. Therefore, you have to rank for a large number of different keywords if you expect to get significant website traffic from Google. As I explained above, it’s a lot easier to do that with GMB than with traditional organic rankings.
Reason 7: A Google Local 3 pack ranking has staying power
Another way to rank on the first page for lots of different keywords is Google Adwords. There are two big disadvantages to that though. First, it’s expensive. Secondly, it only works while you are running, and paying for, the ads. Once you stop the Adwords campaign, the traffic also stops. But with GMB, once you establish your listing in the top three, it tends to keep showing up there. Of course you do have to do some maintenance to keep your rankings, but not too much. The main thing is to show that you are actively doing business. You should post fresh content on your website at least once a month. It also helps if there is activity and interaction on your company’s social media profiles. Another important thing is to have customers writing reviews on your GMB listing.
To sum it all up
For all the reasons above, Google local 3 pack ranking is crucial to businesses that want to get phone calls and traffic to their website from Google–the search engine of choice for a large majority of potential customers searching online for your products/services. Google My Business is cheaper than Adwords and much more eye-catching than organic rankings if you rank in the top three. Moreover, your GMB provides social proof in the form of Google reviews consumers can use to get a better sense of who you are and the kind of service you provide.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: