Google Stripping Ratings On Some Queries


Jun 20, 2019
Hi All,

I'm over here in Sydney Aus and noticed something funny today for a particular search query for conveyancing and was wondering if anybody might know the reason for it or if it's something Google might be testing.

The screenshots show the local pack results for the search term 'Conveyancing Lake Macquarie' and 'Conveyancing Services Lake Macquarie'.

When the term 'Services' is included, the local pack drops the star ratings even though all 3 results have reviews. The Lake Macquarie Conveyancing listings are shown in both screenshots for Belmont and Edgeworth locations with star ratings.

When I click into the result, the star ratings are still hidden within the expanded listings and only visible when viewing the listing or when the location marker popup appears.

I could replicate this (and not replicate it) for Conveyancing in a number of other areas in Aus but not for any other service category.

Any ideas?


Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 4.00.06 pm.png

Screen Shot 2019-06-21 at 3.59.56 pm.png


LocalU Faculty
Jul 18, 2012
Hey Matt,

I'm going to copy the section in my training on this that explains how it works.

There are currently a few types of local 3-packs, but the ones I see most commonly are branded and non-branded. The branded 3-pack is generally what you get when you search for things like “sears dallas” or “starbucks seattle” or “state farm chicago.” You’ll get a non-branded 3-pack when you search generic categories like “shopping mall chicago” or “auto insurance baltimore.”

Here are the noticeable differences between the 2:
  1. The branded 3-pack has an ABC labeling on it; the non-branded 3-pack does not.
  2. The non-branded 3-pack shows reviews/rating stars; the branded 3-pack does not.
  3. The non-branded 3-pack shows the primary category for the listing (e.g., “Insurance Agency”); the branded 3-pack does not.
I frequently see Google showing branded 3-packs for non-branded queries. I’ve always concluded this means that Google somehow “thinks” the query is a branded search when it’s really not. For example, most “handyman” queries show a branded 3-pack even though it’s not a branded search.

It is important to know what type of pack you are dealing with because of a brief change I witnessed once showed that the ranking factors are different. Here are some of the differences I observed.
  1. Keywords in the domain matter more for non-branded 3-packs.
  2. Organic ranking factors matter more for non-branded 3-packs.
  3. Hidden addresses may hinder ranking for a branded 3-pack.
  4. Distance to the city-center (centroid) mattered more for branded 3-packs. The map is generally zoomed in more as a result (check out the screenshot below).
  5. Keywords in the business name mattered more for non-branded 3-packs.
  6. Using the proper primary category mattered more for branded 3-packs.
If you’re a part of a well-known chain or franchise, branded searches can be searched more and convert better than non-branded ones. For example, in the insurance industry, keywords like “Allstate + city” or “State Farm + city” can have 5-10x the search volume as “auto insurance + city”.

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