While many of us were trying to make sense of Google’s recently announced restructuring, Google once again shook up the world of search. Google scaled back the amount of real estate it provides for featured search results by rolling out its three-listing Snack Pack, which gives preference to the top three results instead of the top seven. The advent of the Snack Pack underscores the need for enterprises to practice sound search engine optimization (SEO) at the local level.
To recap: Google’s Snack Pack format highlights only the three top listings in search results, as opposed to the seven-listing format previously used. The three-pack takes a mobile-first design approach, whittling results to basic address, weblinks, and driving directions, as this example illustrates by revealing search results for “gyms downtown Chicago”:
There is no other way around it: the total amount of local and local organic listings on the first page of Google’s search results just dropped by almost a quarter, and some businesses are dropping out as a result. If you are concerned about losing search traffic in a post-Snack Pack world, here’s what you should do:
- Review your local organic search strategy. Why? Because if you were in the 4-7 spots of of the local pack, there is a likely chance that Google will send less traffic your way moving forward. So make sure you are following all best practices for optimizing your local business pages for organic search and continue working to build additional local links.
- On the other hand, don’t neglect to continue optimizing your Google My Business listings and creating additional citations, both structured and unstructured. The conflation of local and local organic signals continues; so ignoring one in favor of another is not in your best interest.
Incidentally, I suspect many businesses will notice a decrease in site traffic and onsite conversions attributable to Google thanks to the Snack Pack. The decrease is beyond the control of your own efforts to optimize for Google and SEO. Rather, Snack Pack listings now show fewer trackable links to websites. In the example I cited for a search for “gyms downtown Chicago,” Google reveals a website and links for the three businesses listed: East Bank Club, Lakeview Athletic Club, and Quads Gym. When you click on the website links, you are indeed taken to the websites for each business. But when you click on the other links associated with each name, you are taken to Google’s Local Finder:
Visiting this Local Finder is not a trackable action from the standpoint of your Web analytics.
So don’t panic if you see a dropoff in measurable Web traffic. The dropoff doesn’t necessarily mean that your local performance level is decreasing, but rather the trackable performance level from Web analytics is decreasing. Instead, look to other metrics like Google My Business reporting, call volume, and in-store visits.
Author Credit: Adam Dorfman