Online marketing is essential for all local businesses and being in the Google snack pack is especially important to stand out above your competition.
If you don’t know what Google Snack Pack is, you’re in the right place because we will go into detail about what it is, why it’s so important for your business revenue, how it works, and how you make it to the top yourself.
Before we start, did you know that almost half of all Google searches are people looking to find local services?.
This is great news for people who are found at the top of Google and Google’s Snack Pack.
And if you own a local business and you’re not seen in these prime positions, you’re about to find out how you can!
What Is Google Snack Pack?
Also known as the “local pack” or the “Google 3-pack“, the snack pack is the box that appears at or near the top of a local Google search. It contains the top three local business relevant to the query along with the most important information for those businesses.
At the top of the box, the locations of these businesses are pinpointed on a map. Below, the amount of information given depends on how much the business owner has provided. If the business owner has filled out their entire profile, the following information will be listed:
- Business name
- Google review star rating
- Number of reviews
- Hours of operation
- Phone number
- Business images
- Website link
- Google Maps directions link
When you click on the listing, the box expands to show more information, including a breakdown of the star ratings and a selection of customer reviews. On mobile devices, less information fits in the snack pack, but you can see everything by selecting one of the results.
A History of the Snack Pack
Google first introduced the Local Pack in 2006 with a feature called the One Box, which displayed one local business that best matched the search query. In 2008, the One Box became the local 10-pack. As the name suggests, it showed the 10 most relevant local businesses. A year later, Google reduced the number of results in the local pack from 10 to 7.
Then, in 2015, the 7-pack was cut down to the 3-pack, which became known as the snack pack. Google reduced the number of results to three to improve the mobile browsing experience. Three results fit perfectly on a mobile screen, but seven or 10 take up too much space. The company tries to make the mobile and desktop experience as similar as possible, so they changed the local pack layout across all platforms.
As Google’s local pack has evolved over time, SEO experts have noticed differences in how their sites rank. Since the local pack has decreased to three listings, getting one of these spots is much more competitive.
Why the Snack Pack Matters
Businesses that appear in the snack pack usually get far more clicks than businesses lower down on the page. When the local pack changed from seven results to three, most of the businesses that ranked four through seven saw a significant decrease in their online traffic and phone calls.
Searchers usually believe that the businesses in the snack pack are of high authority since Google has selected them as the top results. Many searchers also stick to the snack pack when evaluating their results because all the information they need is readily available. They can see the company’s address, hours, and phone number, and they can get directions with just one click.
How Google Selects the Snack Pack
Google is secretive about the specifics of its algorithm, but SEO experts have tested their sites to try to determine which factors affect the chances of appearing in the snack pack.
Distance from the searcher is one of the most important factors. The closer a user is to your location, the more likely they are to see your business in the snack pack. Relevance to the search terms matters, too. Google looks for businesses whose categories and keywords match what the user is searching for.
Google also considers the overall prominence of a business. Companies that have better reviews, more website traffic, and stronger backlinks have a greater chance of getting into the snack pack than companies with a weak SEO strategy. Typically, the better a website’s overall SEO is, the better their likelihood of appearing in the snack pack.
How to Get Into the Snack Pack
Some of the most important qualities for your website to have included the following:
- High authority inbound links
- High authority citations
- High star ratings and quality reviews
- Strong keyword optimization
There are a variety of strategies you can try to get your site into the snack pack. Here are the best ways to increase your chances:
Claim Your Profile
If you haven’t done it already, claiming your Google My Business (GMB) profile should be your first step. Unless you have a very unique business with no competitors in your area, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll appear in the Snack Pack if you don’t claim and optimize your profile.
Filling out your GMB profile is not only important for appearing in the snack pack. It also increases the chance of searchers becoming customers. With smartphones and mobile searching, many people have short attention spans and want information as quickly as possible. If they can’t find the information they need, they’ll move onto the next business.
When you claim your GMB profile, you can add all the information searchers need to decide whether or not they want to visit your business. They can call, visit your website, or get directions to your location almost instantaneously.
For your business to be eligible for GMB, you must make in-person contact with customers during your hours of operation.
Here are six steps for claiming and optimizing your profile:
1. Go to google.com/business, click “Start Now,” and sign into your Google account.
2. Provide the following information when prompted by Google:
- Business name
- Service area
- Business categories
- Phone number or website URL
3. Select “Finish” and request verification for your profile.
4. Google will verify your account by mail or by phone. If you choose verification by mail, they’ll send a postcard with a code that you’ll enter online on your GMB account. If you verify by phone, you’ll receive a text or call with a verification code to enter on GMB.
5. Complete your profile, customize your information, and double-check that everything is accurate. Add photos of your business logo, storefront, or store interior. Write a description that uses keywords naturally without stuffing. Add attributes like “highlights,” “atmosphere,” and “popular for.”
6. Check your profile regularly to make sure the information is still accurate. Anyone can edit GMB listings, and misinformation can affect your business image and your search rankings.
Links have always been an important part of local and organic SEO, and they affect the snack pack, too. You should have inbound links, also known as backlinks, which come from other sites linking to you, and you should have outbound links, which come from your own site.
The first step in your link building strategy is to get rid of bad links to avoid a penalty from Google. Search your website for irrelevant or broken outbound links, and delete them or replace them with new links.
You can find bad backlinks with an analysis software like Ahrefs or Linkody, which will tell you how many backlinks lead to your site as well as the quality of those links. If you find bad backlinks, try finding the contact information for the website owner and asking them to remove the links.
In many cases, bad backlinks come from spam sites that are set up for the sole purpose of SEO link-building. They may also come from spam comments on other websites. Fortunately, you can disavow these backlinks on your Google account by downloading a list of your backlinks, creating a file with the links you want to remove, and uploading the file to Google.
After cleaning up your bad links, you may want to build stronger inbound links. The best way to get backlinks is to write high-quality, helpful content that other people will want to share. You can reach out to other business owners with your content, and you could even offer to share their content on your website, too. However, you should only offer to exchange links with a business if they’re related to your niche and have a strong online presence.
Infographics are a great way to generate backlinks, too. They’re helpful, informative, and easy to share, so other site creators are likely to reference them in their own content.
Guest blogging is another way to gain inbound links. You can write for other websites and link to your site, or you can invite others to write for you. They may publish a link to that content on their own website.
Increase Your Citations
Citations are references to your NAP: your business’s name, address, or phone number. Some of the most common places to find citations include the following:
- Your website or app
- Social media platforms
- Local directories
- Press releases
- Image or video descriptions
- Guest posts
When selecting the snack pack, Google considers the number of citations you have as well as well as the consistency of the NAP mentions. You can make your way to the local pack by creating as many NAP mentions as possible on local directories and on your own website. Full NAP mentions that include your name, address, and phone number are better than NAP mentions that only include one or two.
Make sure your information is accurate every time, though. If you use an abbreviation in your business name, you should always keep it exactly the same. If your address includes a suite number or floor number, always use the same formatting.
Consistency is especially important if you don’t have your own website. If Google can’t pull the information from your own site, they’ll pull it from third parties. Incorrect information will make your business look unreliable to Google and to potential customers.
Generate Ratings and Reviews
Ratings are a particularly important factor for the snack pack. At the top of the listings in the pack, users can select a star rating, and only businesses with that rating and higher will appear.
Google considers the number and quality of your reviews as well. Businesses with lots of positive reviews rank higher on local searches than businesses with few or poor reviews. Generating reviews is important for attracting customers, too. The majority of shoppers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from family and friends, so having strong Google reviews could convince people to choose your business over your competitor.
Some people choose on their own to give feedback, but you may have to encourage your customers to leave a review. You could place a sticker in your window reminding customers to review your business, or you could send an email request to your audience. If you have regular customers, you could ask them in person to leave a Google review. Another option is to add a review widget to your site to make it as quick and easy as possible for your customers to write a review.
Optimize Your Site for Mobile Devices
As people spend more time on mobile devices, Google prioritizes the mobile experience. In 2018, they started rolling out mobile-first indexing, which means Google crawls mobile sites before desktop sites, and your ranking is based on the mobile version of your site.
Because many people search for local businesses while on the go, mobile user experience and local SEO are closely intertwined. Your mobile site should be as strong and easy to navigate as your desktop site, and it should include all of the same information.
Responsive web design is one of the best ways to improve your site’s mobile user experience. Responsive websites use flexible grids and layouts, so they automatically adapt to any screen size. This way, you don’t have to design different sites for different devices, and your mobile users will easily be able to navigate your site.
Avoid using Flash, which isn’t available on all mobile devices. Instead, you can use HTML5 to create similar special effects. Keep touchscreen devices in mind when designing your site, too. If your buttons are too big, they may cause accidental clicks. If they’re too small, they may be difficult to tap on a small phone screen.
Maintaining Your Place in the Snack Pack
If your business has made it into the snack pack, you should be excited about the traffic it will bring.
However, you shouldn’t be complacent with your ranking. There are likely dozens or hundreds of businesses in your area competing for those top three spots, and it’s easy to lose your place.
Most of these tips are not actions you can only do once.
You should always stay up-to-date on the latest algorithm changes, and you should always be making improvements to your SEO strategy. You can continue to build links, add citations, and generate customer reviews. This will help your overall rankings in addition to maintaining your place in the local pack.
Appearing in Google’s snack pack is a great way to strengthen your online presence.
Most people search for local businesses online, and many only look at the results in the snack pack.
The local pack is competitive, but reaching the top is worth the effort.
By improving your SEO strategy, you can get your business into the snack pack and attract more local customers.
If you’re interested in getting into the snack pack, then click the link here and we will be able to help.