Local pack results display businesses and not websites. Don’t want to believe it! Why don’t you try some search? Enter a query and check websites of the businesses in the local pack results.
You’ll notice that:
- Businesses haven’t verified/claimed their Google listings
- They don’t have Google reviews
- Some businesses don’t even have sites
The results are called proximity to searcher. If you location of the businesses, you’ll find that they within the walking distance from your location. For Google, proximity weighs more than backlinks, content, reviews and citations for local pack rankings. The main consideration is “which business is closest to the searcher” and not the traditional SEO.
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How Does Proximity Impact Local Organic Results?
Local pack results include directories and businesses and Google shows the results in the following ways:
1. In the new local pack results, proximity to searcher is determined his physical presence. Businesses displayed in the results are physically closer to the searcher.
2. For convenience of the searcher, Google prefers showing businesses that are clustered together
3. Number of businesses displayed in the local pack is determined on the number of searches available. But Google will prefer keeping the numbers small from 3-5
4. Google will show results from distant places, if there are no matching results in close proximity
Why is Google Doing This?
There could be several reasons to Google giving weight to proximity to the searcher than local search ranking factors.
1. It is quite difficult to get into organically driven local pack results but there are more businesses that deserve entry into local packs. Google wants to provide an opportunity to businesses that are looking for ways to enter into local packs through the pack local packs.
2. Earlier Google used to show only one local pack per city/keyword combo but now there are thousands of local packs. Google is creating a local pack every mile and providing an opportunity to businesses to target clients.
3. The 3-pack results could show only three listings but there is an opportunity to get visibility in “more places”. Searchers will certainly want to open the Local Finder to view more places.
4. The businesses in the local pack can further divided into their proximity to the searcher. It is bonus for businesses to get featured in the local ad packs “nearby” tag.
5. But I am of the view that Google isn’t doing it for revenue but to provide better user experience to the searchers. And this is evident from the fact that Google is working on improving its technology to refine its results.
So What About Local Rank Tracking?
There could be variations in the reports hence you should take the report to determine increases and decreases in local visibility.You should know that you aren’t going to see the results that your searchers are seeing on their desktops and mobiles.
How Does This Affect Local SEO Strategies?
Local SEO has become more competitive.Proximity sensor has squeezed the local pack results and increased the competition among the businesses.
1. Don’t blame yourself for loss of ranking in local pack as it isn’t you but Google that decides ranking
2. Take advantage of local organic opportunities that come in the form of content and links. It is a great way to get city-wide opportunities
3. Get figured in local pack results pulled from places far away from the searcher
4. Diversify your optimization beyond Google like TripAdvisor, Yelp and BBB to get into local pack results
Google has reduced the radius of search for searchers but there is still hope for getting business in local search. You can diversify your business to figure in the local pack and get business.