The Incredible Shrinking Google Local Pack

The Incredible Shrinking Google Local Pack


You know the Google local three-pack, don’t you? It’s that handy map and listing of three businesses at the top of searches with local intent.

This is quite a desirable place for your business to appear. And competition to get in it has become tougher. In August of 2015, Google made waves by cutting down the number of local results appearing at the top of their SERP from seven locations down to three. This has come to be known as the Google three-pack.

The three-pack includes a map with the chosen top three spots pinpointed and listings of each business below. The first image below is the local pack for the query “Omaha model trains” (yes, there’s a train geek here at Sleight). Notice that Google shows what it deems as the top three hobby stores that have model trains in the general Omaha DMA. The listing in Council Bluffs is about a 30-minute drive from where we are. Granted, this is a fairly specific query, so the results are probably not pulling based on the exact user location.

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A more general query, like “barbers near me” would yield results more related to exact user location (image below). In a business-related query with local intent, such as “barbers near me,” you’ll get the top three results that Google deems relevant to you. These are largely based on user location, especially if the query has location-related terms (like ‘near me’). Same thing if you query “hair salons near me.” 🙂

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In both screenshots, each result has NAP info (Name, Address, Phone), plus hours, and present reviews. There are icons to click their website or get directions. (As a side note, we’re stunned that three of the six businesses don’t have websites.) Underneath the pack, there is a clickable icon to reveal “more places.” Clicking this will open up the businesses that have claimed their Google My Business listing in the left-hand navigation as well as place them on the map.

The local three-pack also may or may not appear above all the organic listings. Sometimes, the top organic listing (usually paid, so a bit of a misnomer) may appear above the pack. Regardless, the local three-pack is prime online real estate for your business to have. Local searches are growing exponentially, especially since over half of Google searches are on mobile devices.

And, by all appearances, the Google’s three-pack is going to shrink down to two.

In early September 2016, TheSEMPost reported Google was testing local two-packs, but with three pinpoints on the map. The article also states that some queries generated two-packs but with no icon to reveal “More Places.” And Google has been testing ads in their local pack, too. If they’re testing ads in the current local three-pack, more than likely paid ad space will be included when the pack goes to two entries, as we believe it will. How soon will that happen? The jury’s still out on that one.

How You Can Appear in the Google Local Pack

Because it’s so advisable to be found in Google’s local pack, you should concentrate some of your SEO efforts toward getting there. Here are some things you can do to help you do so. Getting into the local three-pack entails consistently feeding the correct information to Google about your business. The most crucial piece is to make sure that your NAP information is correct on your website, and most businesses can do that in fairly short order.

The next important task is to claim your business listing in Google My Business. If you haven’t, do so right after reading this, or pick up the phone and call us. Make sure the information is correct and matches what you have on your website – and that both are correct and in proper USPS form.

Here’s a quick breakdown of some other helpful techniques to get your business in Google’s local pack listings on relevant searches:

  • Make sure NAP (Name, Address, Phone) info is correct on your website
  • Claim your Google My Business listing (do one for every location) and encourage customer reviews
  • Comb through your listings on major local aggregators and ensure correct information
  • Make sure your site has a page for each location
  • Use schema markup

Lacking in time, staff, or knowledge to do these things? The local SEO experts at Sleight Advertising can help you. We’ve helped other businesses find their place in the Google local pack, and helped submit and clean up local listing information across the web.

Remember, if you’re not presently in Google’s local pack, getting there can take time, especially if you have conflicting or inaccurate information somewhere. Doing the above steps consistently will help get you there faster. Also, watch the Google SERP for the presence of paid ads in the local pack. If they become common as we think they will, you’ll have an opportunity to get there quickly through paid insertion.