If you're a local business, it is more important than ever for your listings to rank in Google's Local Pack — the map area that appears at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) with the local listings most relevant to the search query conducted. Google's Local Pack results appear for at least 93% of Google searches with local intent according to a 2016 report. And these local searches are critical for businesses. Why? Because roughly 50% of consumer smartphone users that conduct a search will visit a store within a day, and 34% of those who use a computer or tablet will do the same. This means that consumers searching locally are usually ready to buy something — now.
The Local Pack also helps your business stay competitive in search. The better optimized your Google listing is, the more likely you are to outrank competitors and appear in the Local Pack, increasing your chances of being chosen by a searching consumer and driving more foot traffic to your business's doorstep. Most consumers searching online only check the first SERP, so it's essential that you have an optimized and compelling Google listing to rank higher.
Prior to August 2015, the Local Pack contained seven local listings. However, in an effort to bring a more streamlined search experience to its users, Google changed this so that only three local listings are visible to consumers. Today's Local Pack includes a map displaying the location of each local business, with the top three local business listings below. Each business listing display includes the business address, distance from you, an image, and the business's star rating — something that is essential to stand out as today's consumer search continues to shift.
Although there are only three listings displayed in the Local Pack, consumers can click the More Places button at the bottom of the pack to see more results. Providing additional information — also known as enhanced content — in your Google listing, like hours of operation, amenities, photos, menu items, and more, helps to differentiate your business and enables consumers to choose which business they want to visit. Enhanced content helps listings stand out among search engines that value rich listings. According to a recent Yext study, businesses with rich content received 45-61% more listings views.
Search engines — especially Google — are now devoting significant real estate to ratings and reviews, due to consumers relying more on their peers' experiences and feedback to make purchasing decisions. There are many resources that you can use to get reviews populated on your Google My Business listing but it is worth noting that 7 out of 10 customers will leave a review for a business if asked by the business. In fact, reviews influence the local pack visibility most when "high-quality, positive reviews from your customers" are submitted. Reviews can also be generated from the merchant's own website and third-party sites.
Leverage the Yext Knowledge Engine to control digital knowledge, help boost your listings' SEO and drive foot traffic. Learn more about Google's removal of ads from the right rail of its SERP in our whitepaper, Goodbye Right Rail: What Google Paid Search Changes Mean for Local Marketers.