Local search results have become an important part in achieving and maintaining high visibility in search engines. Following the recent “3-Pack” update, it has become increasingly more essential in following best practices for local search in order to appear on the first page of the search engine result page (SERP).
1) Location Matters
Following Google’s pigeon update, local search now favors results that are within a 20-25 mile radius of the targeted location or city center. For example, the term “seattle hotels” will give preference to those results who are listed within 20-25 miles of the city center over those who are not. While the location is a major factor in the “3-pack”, this can be overcome with good SEO practices.
Recommendation: If you’re hotel is not within 20-25 miles of the city center, you can target other locations you are closer to until you build up your SEO. Things such as attractions, nearby cities, and districts are excellent examples.
2) Social Signals (Especially Google+)
It is no surprise the “3-pack” would take in social signals into its ranking factors, especially Google+. Websites such as Facebook, Tripadvisor, Yelp, and Google+ Business are important directories to have listings on and contribute to how Google will view your website.
Recommendation: Claim your local listings on directories and social media sites, most importantly Google+. If you do not have them, create them and then claim them. After you have claimed your listing, you are allowed to make edits and changes. Make sure your name, address, and phone number are correct and displayed the same as they are on your website.
Click here to see instructions on how to claim your Google+ Business page.
3) More Reviews, Better Reviews
Reviews are not only important to your click-through-rate, but also your visibility in the “3-pack”. Google’s “3-pack” will favor those hotels who have a positive reviews and lots of them.
Recommendation: Monitor your reviews on local directories and social media sites. Respond and reach out to both negative and positive reviews. This is not only a chance to repair your relationship with your guest, but also a chance to get constructive feedback and ideas for improvement for the future.
4) Good SEO
Like everything else on the SERP, good SEO is essential. Having a well optimized website targeting select keywords is an important part of your “3-pack” visibility. Especially link signals to your website. This means having “spammy” signals directing to your site will lower your “3-pack” position but having good quality links will boost your position.
Recommendations: Continue practicing good SEO such as linkbuilding, social media, content creation, etc.
5) Hotel Finder Integration
The adoption of the new “3-pack” now forces hoteliers to use Google services in order to be at the top of the page. This means either using AdWords to rank in paid results or ranking well in the “3-pack”. Naturally this is an opportunity for Google to push another one of its products on hoteliers which is their Hotel Finder. Having integration with Google’s Hotel Finder is another ranking factor in your “3-pack” position.
Recommendation: Hotel finder pulls information from various online travel agencies such as Expedia. Having a presence on these websites will help you get listed in Hotel Finder.