Looks like Google is changing things up once again. Imagine our surprise at that! Google is always mixing things up, sometimes for the better, and other times for the worse. This time Google is changing the local 3 pack to a 2 pack with a twist.
It hasn't been that long since Google changed from the 7 pack to what is now the 3 pack. If you don't know what we are talking about, it's when you search for a business service and something like this pops up in the search:
That was a search for Marietta plumber and what was returned.
Now Google is going to change this to a 2 pack, with a really big twist. It will still be a 3 pack, although now the top spot will be an ad! So in the example above, the listing of Roto-Rooter would be an ad.
How much will it cost? Well that remains to be seen. We can bet that it will cost a pretty penny since the snack pack generates so many leads.
How will this impact Google and the user performing the search? Well obviously it will be great for Google as they will make more money from local businesses trying to bring in more customers. For the user on the other hand, probably not so good. There is a good chance that a business that isn't that reputable could potentially end up in the 3 pack.
Can you blame Google? After all, they are a business and make a lot of money from ads. We would have preferred to see them leave the pack at 7, then take one away for ads, but we don't have any control over what they do.
How Do You Get Into Google's Snack Pack?
So how can you combat this? If you still want to be in the 3 pack, one of the best ways to get there and stay there is by getting a lot of citations with the correct name, address and phone number of your business listed everywhere.
These citations are places like YellowPages.com, Kudzu, Manta and Yelp to name a few. The more of these citations you have, the better your chances of being listed in the 3 pack. However, it is extremely important to make sure that your business information is listed EXACTLY the same way across all platforms. For instance, if your address is 1234 Main Street, and that was how you listed it in Google, you would want to make sure that you listed your address that same way across all platforms and not abbreviate Street for St.
There is some debate, as usual, if getting more good reviews will help get you into the 3 pack. We tend to lean towards no on that, since you can do a search for a business service and businesses with less reviews than others will rank higher in the pack.
Try Google's Featured Snippets
There is another way to get top listings however. And this is something that has been around for a very short time and SEO's debate whether or not it is beneficial to creating leads or not. It's Google's Featured Snippets.
Here is what Google has to say about this feature:
“When a user asks a question in Google Search, we might show a summary of the answer in a special featured snippet block at the top of the search results page. This featured snippet block includes a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL.”
Here is an example when we searched how to unclog a drain:
Notice that it comes before any of the listings? Pretty cool. Take notice also that there is a link in the snippet to the website where the information was taken from.
Will you be able to rank a featured snippet for something like "Atlanta Plumber" or "Roswell Electrician"? Probably not. However, if you can do some serious keyword research you can increase your chances for these snippets popping up in different places.
Ryan Clutter wrote an article in Search Engine Journal that explains the best ways to increase your chances of getting featured in these snippets:
7 Ways to Improve Your Chances for Featured Snippets
According to research conducted by HubSpot, websites that rank in the first five positions are highly favored to appear in the answer box, though you don’t have to rank in organic position number one. Use SEMRush to determine how well your keywords are ranking. For those in the first five positions, make alterations to help boost your chances of earning your presence in the answer box.
Anticipate a long-tailed query in question form to improve featured snippets.
What answers are your customers seeking? Show your readers and Google that you’re able to accurately answer their question.
Keep in mind there is no exact science to gaining featured snippets—and no 100% chance you’ll ever see your content in these boxes.
Ryan makes a lot of great suggestions in the article. One suggestion that he makes that we really like later in the article is making your long tail keyword search query (what your intended audience is searching for) your H2 tag. That's super slick! If you are performing your own SEO, you need to read the entire article so you can be equipped better for featured snippets.
So if you are bent on staying in the 3 pack, more citations to keep you there. We would highly suggest that you also take into consideration on making posts on your site that can possibly get you into the featured snippets. After all, it can help increase the chances of driving more traffic to your site, which is what we are after anyhow.
Be sure and contact us if you are in need of an online marketing company to help handle all of your SEO needs :)