Digital Marketing: Google Local 3-Pack

be the big dot

At this year’s DOYO Live event on Thursday, Aug. 3, our SEO samurai, Jim Komara, is dropping some vital knowledge about the Google Local 3-Pack. Suffice to say, if you don’t know what that is, you need to be in his breakout session Be the Big Dot at 1 pm.

You’ve probably heard a lot of search engine marketers talk about organic searchability. Essentially, organic traffic are search results that appear because of their relevance to the search terms. In other words, they’re not sponsored ads.

For years, business owners and marketing teams went for broke trying to fully optimize their web presence for organic searchability. They wanted that coveted top spot on the search results…namely Google search results. For what it’s worth, organic searchability is still very important.

The Big ‘But’

There’s always a ‘but’. In recent years, Google has refined its search algorithm to give local results priority. That way, if you live in Youngstown and you search for “Chinese food,” or “Chinese food near me,” you won’t get a result for Chen’s in Cranberry Twp., PA. (Jeremy lived in Cranberry Twp. and won’t shut up about Chen’s General Tzo’s chicken.)

This is called the Google Local 3-Pack, and it drastically changed the look and feel of the local search listings. Remember these?

big dot old pack

That’s how it used to look when people in Miami would search for a moving company. With the switch to the Google Local 3-Pack, results now show only three local businesses with no business addresses and phone numbers, no flyout business cards, and no Google My Business links. So, local results look like this:

big dot local 3 pack

While a great change for local businesses, it caused a bit of a stir for other viable search results. When you enter search terms, you now see typically four sponsored search results, followed by the Local 3-Pack, then the organic results – in that order. In other words, sponsored ads and 3-Pack results take priority.

Unfortunately for businesses that are only focused on organic searchability, this means that searchers will have to scroll past all the sponsored and 3-Pack results just to get to your result.

This presents a problem. For so long, we’ve been conditioned to pay attention to the top-most results on the first page of a search. Think of it like a newspaper in the coin box – front page and above the fold is prime real estate because that’s the content that editors believe will sell the most papers. In a way, Google has created ‘front page, above the fold’ content with the Local 3-Pack.

With the Local 3-Pack taking up so much real estate on the mobile version of the Google Search results page, you have to scroll quite a bit to get to the organic content. And as we switch to a more mobile-focused user experience – the share of online searches initiated on a mobile device is more than 50% for most industries (Smart Insights) – it is absolutely vital for businesses to make sure they’re putting time and money toward being The Big Dot.

So, what is The Big Dot?

The Big Dot refers to the map that’s tied to the Local 3-Pack search results. If Google deems your business to be the most relevant result based on the search terms, you get to be The Big Dot, while your competitors are just little dots on the map.

This is important for obvious reason. First, it means you’re among the three in the Local 3-Pack, which is critical for desktop and mobile search visibility. It also means that you’ll be at the top of the pile when your potential customer clicks the Local 3-Pack and gets your result along with all of your competitors.

Being at the top of the local competitors list means something, especially on mobile. A user has two options from the local business list: call the company directly, or click its name to get directions using the Google Maps function. Essentially, Google provides the information that was once only available by clicking your website. Now, user don’t even have to go to your website for your phone number when they can find it in the local search list. Just another reason why it’s so important to put just as much effort behind Local 3-Pack optimization as you do organic searchability.

How can I be The Big Dot?

Great question! Your first step is to attend Jim’s breakout session Be the Big Dot at DOYO Live, Thursday, Aug. 3, at 1 pm. You can still register for the event here.

Jim will be reviewing some key areas about how you can optimize your business to be The Big Dot, including:

• Google My Business

• NAP Consistency

• Citations

• Online Reviews

• Social Signals

• Keyword Considerations

• Position Zero

If you’re not able to make it, you can always meet with Jim here at PALO’s Youngstown office. Call us at 866-629-PALO (7256) or click here for a free consultation.