Disconnect Between Organic and Snack Pack Rankings

pwarrenseo

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2019
Messages
14
I was wondering if any one else regularly has this issue. I work on an large franchise type website with hundreds of locations. Often we have really high organic local rankings for our GMB landing pages in the cities we target. Usually our organic rankings are in the top 3. Many times though we won't have a presence in the top 3 in the snack pack. We currently use Yext for citation management. We have covered all of the local landing page bases like "NAP showing, unique location based content, local reviews and GMB map embed. Has anyone else had this issue and what did you do to address it?
 
Joined
May 3, 2018
Messages
64
The 3-pack is hyper-local. In an urban area with a high density of competing businesses (e.g. in downtown Toronto there are areas with a few coffee shops on every block) the 3-pack changes on every block.

If you're searching from a distance, the 3-pack is based around a centroid. That is often the centre of the downtown core but not always. E.g. car dealerships tend to bunch up on the edge of town and the centroid for dealership searches is usually in the centre of that dealership cluster.

The point is, 3-pack results are highly location dependent. You might be looking at centroid-based results and, if your location is not near the centroid, you won't be in the 3-pack.

Try Chrome extension "gs location changer" to see how the 3-pack changes as you spoof your location at various places across a city, including near the business you're searching for. At this hyper-local level, proximity the #1 ranking factor. The organic results are not so sensitive to location.
 

pwarrenseo

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2019
Messages
14
The 3-pack is hyper-local. In an urban area with a high density of competing businesses (e.g. in downtown Toronto there are areas with a few coffee shops on every block) the 3-pack changes on every block.

If you're searching from a distance, the 3-pack is based around a centroid. That is often the centre of the downtown core but not always. E.g. car dealerships tend to bunch up on the edge of town and the centroid for dealership searches is usually in the centre of that dealership cluster.

The point is, 3-pack results are highly location dependent. You might be looking at centroid-based results and, if your location is not near the centroid, you won't be in the 3-pack.

Try Chrome extension "gs location changer" to see how the 3-pack changes as you spoof your location at various places across a city, including near the business you're searching for. At this hyper-local level, proximity the #1 ranking factor. The organic results are not so sensitive to location.
I'm using Accuranker to verify my map pack results which I believe only based off of the city center. Often we have rankings in the map pack for other competitive terms within the city.
 

pony

Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2019
Messages
91
I work for a similar business (large franchise with thousands of locations) and have spent a good amount of time reporting and tracking on local rankings for those locations.

As mentioned above, if you are always using city-center to perform your searches, your results are going to be heavily biased towards the business that are closer to city center.

I have done some testing and in our industry (hotels) we have noticed that the map pack results are always within 3-5 miles of wherever the search is being performed, but variance based upon the level of competition within the area.

Meaning, if your business is similar, and isn't within a certain range of city center, then you are never going to see your listing show up in the map pack.

Good news is that most users are not searching from city-center (unless on a desktop and searching for something generic in X city, or actually in the center of a city on a mobile device). My advice would be to get a tool like STAT that allows you to track the same search term across many geo points. That will give you a better understanding of how you rank around the city.


Basing all of your reporting off city-center is misleading.
 

JoyHawkins

Administrator
Joined
Jul 18, 2012
Messages
3,091
As mentioned above, if you are always using city-center to perform your searches, your results are going to be heavily biased towards the business that are closer to city center.
100% agree with this. This was one of the main points I spoke about at my Mozcon presentation this year. Yan wrote recently about how rank tracking for local is challenging and how search results can vary even if you move a few hundred fee.
 

Tim Colling

Moderator
Local Search Expert
Joined
Sep 3, 2014
Messages
1,169
I don't know if this was ever their bias, and if so, if it still is... But it seems to me that Google often shows local businesses more than chains.
Could be, in some cases, but in my experience, with companies that provide senior care services, the national chains are almost always highly ranked in local packs regardless of local ranking factors that we usually think of such as reviews, local links, and so forth. Coincidence? Who knows?
 

pwarrenseo

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2019
Messages
14
I work for a similar business (large franchise with thousands of locations) and have spent a good amount of time reporting and tracking on local rankings for those locations.

As mentioned above, if you are always using city-center to perform your searches, your results are going to be heavily biased towards the business that are closer to city center.

I have done some testing and in our industry (hotels) we have noticed that the map pack results are always within 3-5 miles of wherever the search is being performed, but variance based upon the level of competition within the area.

Meaning, if your business is similar, and isn't within a certain range of city center, then you are never going to see your listing show up in the map pack.

Good news is that most users are not searching from city-center (unless on a desktop and searching for something generic in X city, or actually in the center of a city on a mobile device). My advice would be to get a tool like STAT that allows you to track the same search term across many geo points. That will give you a better understanding of how you rank around the city.


Basing all of your reporting off city-center is misleading.
I tried STAT and it does a pretty good job tracking location rankings at scale but it didn't do a great job identifying map pack rankings. Their rep even told me they can't accurately track them. Semrush does a decent job of tracking map packs at the zip code level but it's cost prohibitive in my situation.

My issue isn't with tracking though or location being a prominent local ranking factor. My issue is having a low map pack rankings even though I'm within the location range of the searcher for some keywords and not for others despite having organic rankings for all.
 

keyserholiday

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
165
@pwarrenseo I know exactly what you mean. I too work with nationwide franchises. Each map pack result is different from city to city. Google focuses on the following proximity, relevance, and dominance. Since map pack, results are based on how close the business is to the searcher and based upon the 2 to 1 pattern as Rank Ranger.
I always recommend the following:
Increase photos, both consumer and company own photos
Start a review solicitation service.
Reply to all reviews.
Start Google posts
360 tours

I know this is difficult getting the franchisee to buy in and you will need to get Corporate to back your play.

I also highly recommend that you do some bushwhacking SEO and report competitor spam. If your competitors are keyword stuffing their GMB name by adding keywords and cities in their names, report them using the GMB Redressal Form. Here is my example spam report sheet for tracking and reporting.
 

pwarrenseo

Member
Joined
Jan 24, 2019
Messages
14
@pwarrenseo I know exactly what you mean. I too work with nationwide franchises. Each map pack result is different from city to city. Google focuses on the following proximity, relevance, and dominance. Since map pack, results are based on how close the business is to the searcher and based upon the 2 to 1 pattern as Rank Ranger.
I always recommend the following:
Increase photos, both consumer and company own photos
Start a review solicitation service.
Reply to all reviews.
Start Google posts
360 tours

I know this is difficult getting the franchisee to buy in and you will need to get Corporate to back your play.

I also highly recommend that you do some bushwhacking SEO and report competitor spam. If your competitors are keyword stuffing their GMB name by adding keywords and cities in their names, report them using the GMB Redressal Form. Here is my example spam report sheet for tracking and reporting.
Thanks for the advice. We are actually doing these things so I think spam reporting is going to be the way to go here.
 

keyserholiday

Local Search Expert
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
165
@pwarrenseo here is my advice.
A. claim your brand's KP
B. Look at the GMB titles and remove the keyword spam.
Our own Joy has shown examples where adding cities to the GMB name cause 2-pack results for brands
C. your competitors are keyword stuffing. The first search I performed confirmed it. You may also have competitors based out of their homes and not being marked as SAB's. I am also seeing some obvious lead gen listings as well.

You have your work cut out for you. Happy hunting!!!

 

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