The local SEO pack, something that was once referred to as the local 7-pack and now the local 3-pack, is Google’s way of listing local businesses in search results. For a short time, Google listed 7 businesses for searches that implied the user was looking for a local result. Now, Google has trimmed this to just 3 listings and since the change, there have been advocates for and against the changes and lots of discussions about how these changes will influence local visibility and website traffic.
What has actually changed in the local SEO pack?
The actual changes in the local SEO pack are relatively straightforward. There is now only three businesses displayed, while there was once as many as seven. Prior to the changes, Google would sometimes display 3, 5, or 7, and there was no concrete answer as it differed depending on the search. Today, with just three listings being visible, there’s more competition than ever in local SEO.
Additionally, there are no business addresses or phone numbers displayed within the listings. There is only the name of the street where the business is located and in order to uncover more, the user will have to click on the listing. However, when they do so, this will also open up a page with a list of more than 20 competitors.
These changes ultimately affect all types of digital marketing. For instance, email marketing campaigns that reference local businesses and expect the searcher to easily be able to find that business through a Google search might have to rethink their approach. A business that was once ranked at the top of the local SEO pack might not be there today. Whether you’re using an email marketing agency or writing your emails yourself, the rise of the local SEO pack is changing the way we approach all types of digital marketing.
Digital marketing is starting to be centered around voice command
The rise of the local SEO pack is changing digital marketing but many are arguing it’s for the better. One of the changes is that it’s starting to be centered around voice commands. This is due to the rise of voice searches, which has become popularized by mobile devices.
Voice searches are when a user speaks a voice command, typically into a cell phone or tablet, and that voice search is automatically conducted by the device through the web browser. It’s one of the biggest trends of the modern age and how we optimize content for searchers who are using voice commands can differ.
This means that search engines and local businesses need to take natural speaking language into account what their site content and tags. How we say something out loud is different from how we would type it.
The rise of Chatbots
A chatbot is a relatively new thing but search engines like Microsoft Bing have already begun investing in this new trend. The way it works is that participating businesses will have a chat button next to their search engine listing. Should a user click on this button, a chat box will pop up where the user can begin asking questions to a chatbot.
At the moment, it’s used for basic questions such as whether a business accepts credit cards, if a reservation is available, and various other questions that can be answered through automated responses. This allows users to find answers faster than they would be able to if they had to read reviews, call, or email the company.
Proximity to the searcher
Another way that the local SEO pack is changing digital marketing is that proximity to the searcher is becoming a bigger factor in the local search algorithm. With GPS technology, devices can be tracked to an approximate location with better accuracy than ever before. These geo-targeted results allow search engines to estimate proximity with great accuracy and they have already begun utilizing this as a rank factor. In fact, in 2017, Moz found that a searcher’s proximity to a business is the number one ranking factor for the local SEO pack. This means that you can see different results based off your location within a city.
This feature alone can be great for businesses that are focused primarily on dragging foot traffic in their immediate area, but not so great for businesses that rely on attracting customers from a wider geographical area.
The rise of the local SEO pack is changing search engine optimization and digital marketing altogether. As local businesses compete to drive more customers and outrank their competitors in search engines, the ranking factors of local SEO become a bigger priority. The changes that Google, Bing, and other search engines are making to make local search engine results more effective have an impact across the array of digital marketing strategies.