During its initial stages, Google instantly began controlling the majority of search queries. Soon, the search engine giant realized that people would start searching for products online. To help customers find relevant businesses, Google Local was introduced in March of 2004. This version offered customers local business names, directions and maps. A few years later, the 7-pack listing was released.
This version provided much more information about the best local businesses in an area but revealed that even companies without any reviews could make the list. To counter this issue, Google introduced a new 3-pack listing—hence the name “Google Snack Pack”—on August 6, 2015. Marketers began noticing the listings were now limited to only three results. Gradually, it became clear that this was a universal change.
What led to this move?
There were three main objectives for introducing a 3-pack listing rule. Since Google focuses on user experience, the Snack Pack provides more ad space on the SERP (search engine results page), better and more relevant search experience to users and matches the desktop search with mobile user experience. It also increases competition for the top local results.
What are the changes and what do they mean?
Only three businesses can be listed for local results. In earlier versions, businesses of all types could make it to the list, even if they didn’t have good reputations, reviews or ratings. This change makes it crucial for all local businesses to put more focus on getting better ratings and reviews from customers.
Removing Addresses and Phone Number
At first, many thought that removing phone numbers and addresses was a step backwards for better usability. However, what most people don’t notice is this step makes it easier for you to choose only the best business within your proximity. The information now being shown for the 3-pack includes a short description, distance, category, number of reviews, ratings average and company name.
The 3-Pack changes have allowed users to filter their search results by ratings. If you were not concerned about 3-star ratings before, you should be now. Customers will rarely look for companies that rank below three stars. This makes it crucial for businesses to offer excellent service to get good reviews and gradually rank better on local SERPs.
Lower Role with Google+
Previously, it was important for businesses to create a Google+ page for a better rank. This no longer has a direct link on the SERP rankings. This doesn’t eliminate the need to create a Google+ business page; it means that no longer do Google+ page links appear directly on the result pages.
Clicks Open Differently
Upon clicking on a Snack Pack result, you aren’t immediately redirected to the main website. Instead, Google opens a new page with more information displayed on the left side and locations of businesses on the right side. Here you will find the address and phone number information missing from the main page. This new page gives you a chance of being found, even if you aren’t in the top three.
Google’s Snack Pack helps to create competition among businesses, which in turn leads to better overall products and services being provided by all. Being aware of what the Snack Pack entails will help your business stand out and perform better in online searches.