The GMB panel is found in the results of a local business search. So if you search on “Restaurants in Venice Beach”. The results deliver a three-pack (as is called in the trade) of local restaurants, for three local restaurants (at the time of search): James’ Beach, Gjelina and 26 Beach; with the option to expand for more.
Similar to other business panels, e.g. restaurants (see below), there is a tap to call, directions, web link with a description and reviews. But unique to hotels is the option to book a room through a booking agent e.g. Expedia, Booking.com, Hotels.com and others.
Today the GMB three-pack – see the restaurant and hotels examples in the images above – are not paid-for listings. Though reports suggest that Google is certainly considering replacing one of the three pack with a paid listing.
So, with organic listing being pushed further and further below the fold on mobile devices, and the potential for GMB listings to drive calls, reservations (for restaurants and hotels), it is increasingly important to ensure that your business appears and appears correctly on the GMB three-pack.
The biggest takeaway is that links are a dominant ranking factor. Also, citation consistency is incredibly foundational for getting in the pack.
Improve your local ranking on Google
Local results appear for people who search for businesses and places near their location. They're shown in a number of places across Maps and Search. For example, you’ll probably see local results if you search for “Italian restaurant” from your mobile device. Google will try to show you the kind of nearby restaurant that you’d like to visit. In the image below, Google uses local results to suggest some options.
So what does matter? How do you rank?
There are three characteristics that stand out as critical:
Proximity. Is the physical business location close to the location defined?
Relevancy. Is the business relevant to the search query or what it is asking?
Prominence. Does this business stand out? Should it appear above others as relevant for the location?
Implement Schema on your site. You have the opportunity to use the Local Address Schema on your site to reinforce your location to Google.
Links and social signals are also important and no-followed links seem to help with location-specific aspects of weighting.
Reviews don’t actually have a large weighing on search results. This isn’t to say they’re not worth getting – they’re crucial for brand and reputation management, and they do play an SEO role – but they aren’t the catalyst to top rankings that they used to be.
How Google determines local ranking
Local results are based primarily on relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are combined to help find the best match for your search. For example, Google algorithms might decide that a business that's farther away from your location is more likely to have what you're looking for than a business that's closer, and therefore rank it higher in local results.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing matches what someone is searching for. Adding complete and detailed business information can help Google better understand your business and match your listing to relevant searches.
Just like it sounds–how far is each potential search result from the location term used in a search? If a user doesn't specify a location in their search, Google will calculate distance based on what’s known about their location.
Prominence refers to how well-known a business is. Some places are more prominent in the offline world, and search results try to reflect this in local ranking. For example, famous museums, landmark hotels, or well-known store brands that are familiar to many people are also likely to be prominent in local search results.
Prominence is also based on information that Google has about a business from across the web (like links, articles, and directories). Google review count and score are factored into local search ranking: more reviews and positive ratings will probably improve a business's local ranking. Your position in web results is also a factor, so SEO best practices also apply to local search optimization.
There's no way to request or pay for a better local ranking on Google. We do our best to keep the details of the search algorithm confidential to make the ranking system as fair as possible for everyone.