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Local Search - Topic 2: Local Pack Factors

Written by Margaret Shakibaie

Local Pack Factors

In today's video, we will talk about the 9 most important factors that will influence whether you appear in the ‘Local Pack’.

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The "Local Pack" include three businesses selected by Google to appear under the map in a local search. It used to be seven businesses, but now it is limited to three, as you can see below. This is the Local Pack which was generated when the search phrase ‘Web hosting Capalaba’ was entered.

 google local pack

1. Address in City Search

The business address must be in the city of search. This means that if a searcher enters ‘Web hosting Capalaba’, as in the example above, only businesses who have their street address listed as being in Capalaba will be considered to appear in the Local Pack. This is one reason it is essential that, even if you work from home, you list an actual physical address as your business address.

It is interesting to note that the same Local Pack will appear if the person searching is in Capalaba and types in ‘Web hosting near me’.  

2. NAP Citation Consistency

All NAP Citations must be consistent. NAP stands for Name, Address and Phone Number. It is very important that these remain the same wherever they are found on the internet. Don’t use your full business name sometimes and an abbreviation of your business name other times. It is the same with your address and phone number, whatever you choose, be consistent so Google knows that all the citations refer to your business.

In the ‘Local Pack’ shown above, the phone number for The ICT Shak is listed as (07) 3103 3133. It is not listed as 3103 3133, 3103-3133, 0731033133 or +61 07 3103 3133. Whatever format is chosen, it must be consistent every time the phone number for The ICT Shak appears on the internet. To find out the format preferred by Google and other search engines, check out the guidelines found at schema.org.

3. Address in Relation to Search Location

The closer the searcher is to your listed business address, the more likely it is that you will come up in the Local Pack. The address of the searcher is determined by his/her IP address. This is another reason why listing a street address is very important for ranking in a local search.  

4. Quality / Authority of Structured Citations

Structured Citations are listings of your business in local online directories.

  • Some directories have more credibility than others. This is called ‘domain authority’. The domain authority of the directories you are listed in will impact the likelihood that your business will appear in the Local Pack
  • It is essential to be listed in the ‘Top 10 Directories’, these are: Google Local, TrueLocal, YellowPages, Hotfrog, AussieWeb, Local, Facebook, WhitePages, Yelp and StartLocal
  • Make sure the NAP is consistent in all the structured citations
  • Encourage your customers / clients to write reviews of your business in these ‘Top 10 Directories’. All your reviews are added together to determine whether or not your business will be listed in the Local Pack.

google reviewsAs you can see on this search, the restaurant Thai Siam in Cleveland is featured in the ‘Knowledge Panel’ which appears on the right hand side of Google search results. This panel shows that Thai Siam has a star rating based on its ‘Google reviews’ but that rating and reviews from another directory, ‘Zomato’, also appears.

The more structured citations and reviews and the higher star rating of the reviews a business has the more likely it is that they will appear in the ‘Local Pack’ or the ‘Knowledge Panel’.

If you are not consistent with your NAP, some excellent reviews of your business may not be detected by Google, and you will not benefit from the review in your overall rating. In the same way, other ‘profiles’ such as your Facebook page will not appear as a link at the bottom of the panel if the NAP is not the same on your Facebook page.

5. Domain Authority

The domain authority of your website is essentially a measure of its credibility and will impact whether or not your business appears in the Local Pack. There are two ways to strengthen your domain authority. The first is to make sure that your website address appears on your Google My Business (GMB) page. The second is to have links on other websites (with strong domain authority) that point to your site. I will talk about increasing your domain authority further later in this video series.

6. Google (GMB) Categories

It is very important to select the correct category not only in GMB but in all online local directories. If you are wrongly categorised, it will negatively impact your ranking as the search engine will perceive it as a ‘mixed message’ and lower your rank in consequence. In particular, take care not to be too broad, but to indicate what your business actually does.  

7. Product / Service Name in GMB title

This factor and the next factor are only of significance if you are rebranding your business.

A business with the name of their service or product in their title on GMB will be ranked higher than one that does not. For example, ‘Brisbane Office Supplies’ is more likely to appear in the Local Pack than ‘Harry’s Supplies’. However, do not simply add a product name or the city to your GMB title if it is not in the actual name of your business! This will negatively affect your Local Pack ranking because it will lead to inconsistency in your NAP.  

8. Suburb / City / State in GMB title

Refer to number 7 above.

9. Click through rate

Once you begin to appear in the Local Pack, you will only remain in the pack if people actually click on your listing. It becomes self-perpetuating.

We trust you have identified factors that need to be improved for your business to begin or continue to appear in the Local Pack. The most important ‘take away’ for this video is to have a consistent NAP every time your business appears on the internet.