The Google Local 3-Pack is the set of three local, organic search results (attached to a map) that populate Google’s SERP for searches that have local solutions.

These three listings generate significantly more clicks (and revenue) than businesses not featured in the 3-pack. That’s why optimizing your company’s online strategy to gain listings in the Google Local 3-pack can be an important tactic for improving local SEO.

So how do you get in those coveted top spots? Here are a some tips to get you in the running:

Tip 1: Fill out your Google My Business page completely and accurately. The information you fill out on this page will feature prominently in the “business card,” that pops up when you tap or click on one of the 3-pack listings. (Note that clicking one of the 3-pack results doesn’t take you straight to a website!)

Not only is it important that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are correct, but writing a compelling blurb about your business can help a customer decide to contact you instead of a competitor.

Other key features of your Google My Business page are the hours of business, links to your website, and photos. In addition, GMB allows for businesses to ‘create posts’ - which can add ‘stickiness’ and views to your listing.

Tip 2: Put photos on Google My Business. Yes, I am repeating myself. But in the age of visual decision making, the importance of compelling photos can’t be overstated. How many times have you clicked on a business, only to scroll past because there’s no photo to tell you exactly what to expect? Photos also feature prominently in mobile versions of your Google business card.

Tip 3: Make sure your NAP (name, address, phone number) are consistent in all listings of your business. Go through local directories, social media accounts, etc to make sure all references to your business are accurate.

If there are are inconsistent listings out there (maybe you moved a few years ago, and someone has an old address), it could actually hurt your local SEO and the likelihood of making the Google Local 3-Pack.

Tip 4: Use the right categorization. Be sure to use the most relevant primary category that describes what your business is – not what is does or sells. If your listing is not making the Local 3-Pack, review your competitors that are, and see what primary category they are using. If relevant, use the same category.

Tip 5: Generate Google Reviews. Google reviews (in the form of stars) show up right under the name of every business in the Local 3-Pack. Not only do good reviews help you make the 3-Pack, good ratings will help people choose your business over your competitors.

There are different ways to encourage your customers to review you on Google, but one of the best times to ask for a review is right after they make a purchase (product or service).

Tip 6: Generate reviews on relevant directory sites. Whether it is Yelp!, Zagat, TripAdvisor, HomeAdvisor, or Facebook, reviews on these sites can provide two great benefits:

  1. Some reviews are show up directly on your Google business card. For example, many restaurants will feature Zagat reviews.
  2. Reviews from credible directories like Yelp! signal credibility to Google. They do this by vouching for your services and providing backlinks to your site.

Tip 7: Add or integrate reviews to your website. Integrating reviews on your website along with implementing aggregate rating structured data can potentially merit the star ratings in the organic SERPs (if you are using native website reviews - third party review apps or widgets won't give you the star ratings in the organic SERPs). The star ratings can give users more confidence and can provide a higher click-thru rate (CTR) on your site pages.

Tip 8: Build backlinks from local listings. Not only do listings themselves refer potential customers to your business, but they increase your SEO by verifying your credibility to Google. Backlinks in local listings could be on directories by your town’s Chamber of Commerce, Better Business Bureau, or local partner businesses.

Tip 9: Make sure to optimize your location on your website. Google doesn’t automatically know where your business is located unless you give some obvious signals. You can do this by adding your (consistent) NAP to your website, mentioning the location that’s appropriate (whether it’s your city, neighborhood, or region) in the on-page optimization elements, and implementing relevant schema structured data.

Tip 10: Make your niche obvious with long-tail keyword optimization. It could be hard to break into the Local 3-Pack in your area. But you can increase your chances of showing up in more specific local searches if you optimize for the target niche your business specializes in – using those long-tail keyword phrases. For example, a plumbing business that can’t break into the Local 3-Pack for the search “plumber near me” may be able to break into the Local 3-Pack for the search “plumber for old homes near me.”

Tip 11: Use your social media channels. While not directly, social channels can help you in a number of ways indirectly for breaking into the Local 3-Pack.

  1. They are another online citation to verify your NAP.
  2. They can be a place reviews are generated (e.g. Facebook).
  3. You can establish your business locally and obtain a local following – which can manifest itself in local listings, backlinks, content shares, reviews, etc. which give your business website more authority.

So get out there and use social… strategically!

Tip 12: Prioritize the mobile experience. This is important first and foremost because it’s likely that your customers will seek you out on a mobile device at some point, and you want them to have a pleasant experience. But secondly, Google notices if they are or are not having a pleasant experience. And that affects your SEO….which affects winning the Local 3-Pack positioning.

Tip 13: Don’t freak out if you’re not always showing up in the Google Local 3-Pack. Part of the way that you get in the ranking is because of location. In other words, you may show up in the top three for searches on one side of town, but not the other. A good indicator is if you’re in the top 5 for your general audience area. That signals that you’re either in a Local 3-Pack in some locations or awfully darn close to getting there!

By following these tips, you’ll give your local SEO strategy a head start and move yourself toward making the leader board of locally based Google searches!

If you’re looking for help to build a comprehensive and customized SEO strategy and action plan, contact me for a free consultation!

Valerie DiCarlo

Valerie DiCarlo

Valerie is principal and owner of SEO Web Consulting successfully serving clients since 2005 with ethical, holistic, most up-to-date, best practice SEO and online marketing solutions. As a respected boutique SEO consulting firm, our mission is to demystify SEO and provide measured results. All services are customized to meet your specific business need.