Google Local 3 Pack
Showing up in the local search results is about to get even more difficult.
Coming Soon™, an ad is going to sneak its way into the Google local three pack. That’s right—the local three pack that Google cut down from 7 ads is going to include 1 ad and 2 organic listings. Users won’t have to expand the local listings to see it; the ad will be right on the search results.
Local businesses have already had to put more into ads to stay competitive. Now they’ll have to increase their efforts (and their monthly spend) to make any meaningful impact.
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What People are Saying About the New Google Local 3 Pack
The news came from an announcement at SMX Advanced last week, reported by Joy Hawkins on her Google+ page. The story has already begun building buzz, and from what we’ve read, the response has been anxious at best. It echoes the apprehension we felt when Google reduced the local pack from 7 down to 3.
Here’s the screenshot Hawkins took, which she admits isn’t the highest quality:
Several users, including Hawkins herself, mentioned how hard it was to get into the Google local 3 pack. We used to have a little leeway with seven ads, which was still tough considering the thousands of businesses competing for the top spots. Now, getting into the local pack at all could be a financial strain on companies that have had success with organic but haven’t focused much on PPC.
Then again, if you’re only relying on organic for traffic, maybe it’s time to put some resources toward paid search. After all, research has shown that both organic and paid search complement each other to great success.
When Can You Expect the Local 3 Pack?
The local pack of 1 ad, 2 organic listings is currently in testing. This means we might see something slightly different once Google rolls it out. We could even see more ads. Hawkins asked at the presentation whether there were going to be ads on top of the search listings in addition to the advertisement in the local pack; Google told her “they’re testing both, but most likely it won’t be 5 ads in a row (4 ads + 3pack).”
Note that the screenshot above is without the usual ads at the top. It’s possible the final version will exclude those ads, so it doesn’t hit users with a bunch of ads at once, but we’ll see.
Currently, the ad looks like it’s going to be the top listing, with the organic listings below it. With the top spot as a paid ad, the emphasis on “pay to play” that so many in the comments have mentioned is clear.
Maybe we’ll have to start calling it the “local 2 pack” after all.
One thing’s for sure: Google continues to make the rules, and we have no choice but to play the game.
Is your business panicking at having to deal with the demands of the new local 3 pack? Don’t fear—we at SEO Inc. have the experience and know-how to not only help you excel in this new paid search environment but succeed in it. Send us an email and let us help you!