Google Local Pack Filtering

Sep 26, 2017   |   Clock Icon 4 min read
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A complete Google My Business profile can benefit a business in many ways: showing up in the local pack, pretty stars in your GMB profile, a source of recommendations for new customers, and the opportunity to inform Google about your business.

Today, positive reviews on Google My Business are even more essential to appear in local pack results. Beginning in April 2017, Google began rolling out local pack filtering on searches including the words such as “best,” highly rated,” “great,” “outstanding,” and “top.” This filter only includes businesses with a 4+ star rating.

Since April, this filter expanded across more industries, including: restaurants, healthcare, dealerships, retirement homes, and even dog-walkers. Let’s look at some examples in small to medium-sized markets:

Screenshot - Yoga Studio Reviews
Screenshot - Hospitals in OK
Screenshot - BBQ in McKinney TX
Screenshot - Dog walkers

From yoga studios in Nebraska to BBQ joints in Texas, results are filtered to only show the "best" according to GMB reviews. Restaurants have even more filters to worry about — there's an extra filter for many types of food. If you're a pizza place that doesn't have pizza as a service in your GMB profile, you aren't going to show up for pizza searches.

New Reasons to Pursue (great) Google My Business Reviews

Filtering local pack results gives businesses even more incentive to make their Google My Business reviews the “best.” There are two main reasons to pursue GMB reviews above other reviews:

You can show up for queries where your top competitors don’t.

Some of my clients with 4.0+ star ratings for Google My Business are benefiting from showing up for “best {industry term}” when their competitors don’t. A business not showing up in the local pack (obviously) gives you an edge on your competition. With over 30% of organic traffic coming through the Google My Business local pack and knowledge card results for some businesses, this can result in huge gains (or losses) for your business.

In the case of paid ads, you're not out of luck if your business has less than a 4-star GMB review average. In many cases, an ad for a business with fewer than 4 stars will still appear in the local pack. Make sure you’re bidding on “best,” “top,” and “great” keywords relevant to your business with search volume.

“Best” searches widen geographic area, allowing your business to show up in more search queries.

The local pack is becoming hyper-local, causing businesses in less-populated districts, such as the suburbs, to be at a disadvantage. Look at the difference in results for a market like Dallas when searching for car dealerships:

Screenshot - Chevy dealerships in Dallas TX
Screenshot - Ram dealership in Plano TX

By stipulating “best” dealership, the Ram dealership queries expanded from Plano and adjacent cities all the way to Duncanville—35 miles away!

Does Anyone Actually Search For “Best?”

This is interesting and all, but if no one is searching for the “best” of your industry, there’s no extra incentive for pushing Google My Business reviews (yet). First check out search volume for “best,” “top,” or “highly rated” searches relevant to your industry. Some have such low search volume that this likely isn’t largely impacting your business. Others—especially restaurants and healthcare providers—may see large traffic bumps after reaching a 4.0+ star average for their business.

How to get more Google My Business Reviews

But how do you get more positive Google My Business reviews? Ask clients, customers, and patients who’ve had a good experience at your business to leave a review. There are services that automatically send customers follow-up emails with a request to leave reviews. Or you can personally email customers a request for a review and include a link to your Google My Business profile. One tool I found sends users to your GMB review page and automatically fills in 5 stars instead of the empty stars usually seen when leaving a review.

There are plenty of other resources that dedicate time to Google review strategies. One word of caution: don’t set up review stations at your business or pay people to leave reviews. Google is getting better at catching spam and can suspend your Google My Business account. Getting in more local pack results temporarily isn’t worth it if you’re cut out of all local pack results.

How has local pack filtering affected your business? Share with us below!

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Rachel Anderson