We always say how Google never stands still and continues to make changes, small and large, in how it runs its game. The latest iteration of that is the overnight disappearance of the local business “7-Pack” and its replacement now with the so-called “Snack Pack”.
What does this mean in a nutshell? Before, a typical local search term such as San Francisco Pizza, may have returned 7 local businesses at the top of the search results page. These signified what Google considered the 7 most relevant businesses, in order according to their analysis, to the searcher looking for pizza in San Francisco as a special result section that was above-and-beyond the normal organic listings of what would come up in that search result page. Now, poof, the 7-pack is gone. It is replace by the snack pack, which is the highlighting of only the three most relevant businesses.
We say this all the time; you must be in the top-3 rankings to get the real traffic for a search term. The lion’s share of rankings go to the top-3 and what is left for everyone after those positions is absolute table scraps. You’re either in the game and in the top-3 or you should really consider that you have no effective (organic) online search engine marketing presence on Google. It’s as simple, and devastating to a business, as that. Now, you see another sobering realization of that concept.
Does your business have an effective search engine marketing strategy that is successfully being executed? Give us a shout, if you need help.
Here’s a good article below with more details of the “snack pack”. Originally posted at: http://internetmarketing.localedge.com/local-listing-snack-packs/
Local Listing Snack Packs
What is SEO? Well, in its simplest form, SEO is performing various onsite and offsite tactics and strategies aimed toward helping a website gain more visibility within the organic listings. But, what exactly are the “organic” listings these days? Traditionally, these were the ten websites that showed up under the paid ads, but it’s been a long time since Google’s search engine results page (or SERP) has consistently contained the simple ten organic listings for certain business industries such as restaurants. Although you may still see the standard ten on occasion, this instance has become rarer. This is due in part to Google’s need to provide the best possible user experience. As users request to learn and find more online, search engines have evolved how they display this information as well. We have seen these type of user experience enhancing features come and go. Once prominent features of Google search results, such as the Google authorship feature and the carousel, have become extinct. Another type of result might soon be joining them in the graveyard with the disappearance of the local listing section on the SERP for restaurants and other similar industries. Lately, you may have noticed the former standard local listings section showing up in a different format. A format that has been affectionately coined as: the snack pack.
So, what is this “snack pack” of local listings? The snack pack is a quick, top-3 reference table with organizational features among what used to be the standard information. The standard information used to include the essential components of a local listing such as the business name, address and sometimes a logo. Now however, this also mixes in some great features such as dollar signs to represent the overall average expense of the establishment, stars representing their trusted reviews, and a dynamic tidbit on the bottom which depends on how detailed the local listing is. This area can include hours of operation or even a review from a trusted source.
What is the benefit to this over what the local listings used to be?
The major feature is that clicking anywhere on this snack pack takes you to a new page which includes up to 20 listings in that area (depending on the geo-modification of your search). In this area it expands on the previously available information and now allows you to sort and find the right fit for a night out. Are you looking for a top rated establishment? Or possibly something to fit your price range? On this page you can sort all of the listings by ratings, cuisine, average price, or even by their hours of operation. It even includes a map that takes up around 60% of the page (even though when you open up a listing the map gets blocked out for the most part).
How Does This Effect SEO?
All of these features are great for the user in helping them to determine their next eatery adventure, but how will this affect your SEO? These snack pack listings are pulling all of their information from Google+ pages. This means any SEO work that’s done on the actual website basically doesn’t affect the ability for the business to show up in the snack pack section.
Why is this a big deal?
Google putting these listings up means that you’ll have to focus strategies more around Google + optimization and posting than ever before.
Why should I care?
Unlike the typical block of local listings that will usually blend in with the normal organic search results, the snack pack always shows up at the very top of the organic section. If ads appear at the top of the page, the viewer would have to scroll down before they are even able to see any regular organic results. In addition to this, clicking on one of these snack pack listings will take you to an expanded listings page, as previously mentioned. This is quite a change from other local listing results that would still take you to the actual website when the listing was clicked, and it’s further justification of the benefits of optimizing your Google+ page.
How to Take Advantage of Snack Pack Listings on Google
What about the business owner? How can you manipulate these features to the benefit of everyone involved?
Despite Google changing how local results are shown from the carousel to the mini snack pack, the method for users to achieve success remains the same. Below are a couple key factors on how to get you started:
Create a listing and have it verified (no PO boxes) – if one already exists for your business, claim it as the owner.
Add high resolution images to attract users, with accurate phone numbers, hours, addresses, etc.
Describe what makes your business unique and why a visitor should pick your services/goods with appropriate content in the description.
Don’t forget to add a link back to your website!
After your listing is live and verified, start promoting your page and urge your customers to leave reviews. Reviews appear to be very important to distinguish a listing to display first or tenth, which is that much more important now that there are only three results initially.
Who knows what the future will hold for these snack pack listings over the next year, but for now, it’s best for SEO strategists and business owners to try to work with them and take advantage of them as much as they’re able to.