Google’s been in the news recently with its Google+ and YouTube breakup, its focus on security and mobile-friendliness but Google is once again making changes that we and many other SEO marketers are paying attention to: The move to a 3-pack result listing.
This won’t look new to online searchers that use their smartphones, but previously on desktop devices Google would show a 7-pack result and this change had virtually no announcement from Google. One reason Google could be making this change is to reflect a consistent experience across all devices, a major factor Google cites when sharing the benefits of having a mobile-friendly website. While the change makes the results listing look consistent, desktop users lose some information that took up some real estate.
Now, on the 3-pack result, a specific result will give a general location of the business or hotel but not the actual address forcing users to click on a result to get that information.
The move to a 3-pack result also means it’s a more competitive market. If you’re already in the top three results, congratulations! But, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can relax and take a break from your SEO efforts. Now more than ever, you’ll have to ensure your local SEO tactics are working to remain in that top spot. So, how do you do that?
- Organic SEO: Continue to execute on your organic and local SEO efforts. Update your website regularly, make sure all of your contact information is consistent on your website, and add fresh content.
- Links: Probably something you haven’t thought about in a while, links can and will have an impact on your ranking, especially as gaining a spot in that top three becomes more competitive. Use links on your site and work with industry associations, local businesses, and other trusted partners to get links to your website on theirs.
- Directories: Like we said in organic SEO, make sure all the information about your property is accurate and complete on B&B, inn, and hotel directories you have a listing on. Google pulls information from these directories to get a better understanding of your business, so make sure you provide as much information as possible on these directories.
- Reviews: We can’t stress how important it is to pay attention to reviews on Google and don’t be afraid to ask your guests to review you online. Within these pack search results, users can filter out results by ratings. For the hotel industry, users can also filter by price or hotel class. A user can filter out hotels with a two-star and up rating, 3-star and up, or four-star and up rating. Google gets its reviews from the Google+ page associated with that business, so though we’re watching Google+ to see what its future looks like, it’s present is still very much alive and active so it’s important that you’re asking for reviews on Google+ as well as TripAdvisor or Yelp.
One thing our friends over at Moz are alluding to is the idea that Google could be testing and playing with the idea of a pay to play model for a “sponsored pack.” Since the market will be more competitive, there is the notion that people will pay to be included in these coveted spots. Google is testing this program in San Francisco and right now it’s only for the home service professions of plumbers and locksmiths.
What do you think about Google’s change to a 3-pack? Share your opinion in our comments section below!