In 2006 Google released One Box, now known as the original 3 Pack. One box was designed to be useful tool for Googles online users, who wanted to quickly and effectively retrieve local business details from a search results.
In January 2008, Google released an update (well received by the SEO industry) which became known as the local 10 Pack. True to its name, the 10 Pack listed the top 10 most relevant local business listings and gave SEO professionals the opportunity to provide their clients with a fast visible return of investment. However, the 10 Pack only survived around 12 months before Google reduced the listings from 10 to 7.
And as of 2009 7 Packs had completely replaced all 10 Pack listings. With the 7 Pack listings going strong for around 6 years, no one expected the dramatic change Google was about to drop on the online community.
And in August 2015 people began noticing that the usual 7 Pack local listing was now replaced with only 3 local listings from a desktop search result. This was an unusual delivery from Google given that they usually tested these kind of local listing changes on specific countries first. However the update had quickly replaced all 7 Pack listings globally making way for the new 3 Packs.
With the substantial reduction in listing size, the online community soon adopted the name “Snack Pack” for the 3 Pack local listings. And as if the battle to rank at the top of local listings wasn’t competitive enough… the obvious decrease in listings (from 10 to 7 and as it is now 3) made it even harder for online businesses and website owners to reach the top.
This 3 Pack update also caused much panic for SEO professionals who knew how competitive it would now be to get their clients to rank in top results.
With Googles ongoing and unpredictable ambition towards optimising the user experience, it was only a matter of time before they would begin to shift their focus on the ever increasing mobile phone user market. The Google Snack Pack as we know it today is congruent in experience across both the mobile and desktop platforms, with 3 pack listings fitting perfectly to a mobile phone screen.
Subject to the amount of information given by the business owner, a listing inside the Google Snack Pack box will display the businesses details such as:
- Business name
- Business description
- Number of reviews
- Short description
- Contact details
- Star rating average
- Business images
- Business hours
In the past a listing click through would result in the user being directed to the businesses website, however this is no longer the case. This is yet another change that came through with the 3 Pack update. This expanded area as it appears from the user click-through, reveals information that was not displayed in the original listing (before the click through).
One of these areas that appears in the expanded listings area is the Star Ratings and Reviews section. Once a user has clicked on a particular listing it will reveal a star rating “break down” and a feed of customer reviews (if there are any). It will also interest business owners to know that users are given an option to “filter” their search results by the star ratings. If a business website has low ratings and or poor reviews, this is going to be a substantial issue in relation to the websites SEO results and ranking on Google.
Businesses who don’t have any existing reviews are unlikely to show up high in search results, particularly those exisiting in a competitive industry. This filtering option has made customer feedback more important than ever for online businesses desiring to be inside the Google Snack Pack section. Understanding the impact of ratings and reviews for online businesses and SEO results should be viewed from the user experience.
Consider yourself your customer in the following situation:
If you were searching online for a particular service in your local area…
Are you more likely to click on a business listing that has a 5 star rating, over a business listing with a 3 star rating?
Are you more likely to reach out to a business that has a positive list of online reviews, over a business with no reviews at all?
Are you likely to contact business that displays an online feed of negative reviews?
If given a star rating filter option for your search results…Would you be more likely to choose a business that has a high rating of 4 and up, or would you be more inclined to browse through low rated business listings?
After answering these questions it’s going to be pretty obvious that your online prospects are going to be drawn to business listings that possess high star ratings and display a positive feed of customer reviews.