If you search on Google for a location-based business, you have undoubtedly seen what’s called the “seven pack” of businesses with little locator links on the map. This is a list of seven businesses that match the category and geographic location you typed into the search field. These aren’t ads, they’re organic results, tied to the map.
Well this handy business listing is now replaced with a “three pack” also called a “snack pack” of map results. As of August 6, 2015, no more seven packs, RIP.
There are several significant changes, besides the fact that this list now only includes three businesses. Both the desktop and mobile version look quite alike now. You may notice that the street address is not included, just the street name, which is a change. Above is the desktop version of the three pack. The same is true of the mobile version, below.
In both versions, there is a link below the three pack that you can click to see “More dentist”. The three larger locators on the map link to the three dentists in the three pack, and if you expand the list, you can see all of the dentists associated with all of the smaller red circles on the map. This functions pretty much the same way it did in the seven pack.
In the three pack, if you click on the “Directions” link, you will see a full size map and can also see the complete street address of the business. On the desktop version, there is a link to the business website, and on the mobile version there is a click-to-call link.
They have retained the link to Google reviews, adding the average star rating.
If you click or tap on the review stars, or anywhere other than the “Call”, “Directions” or “Website” links, you’ll see more detail for that business, including reviews along with an expanded list of more businesses. See below.
People searching for a restaurant will now have the ability to filter the search results based on the average number of stars a restaurant has. The default setting is for “Any rating” but you can select 2 stars and up, 3 stars and up, or 4 stars and up. And the star rating is based entirely on Google reviews. This is why having Google reviews is so important.
Right now choosing a filter based on star rating appears to be available only when searching for a restaurant, and might not be available in smaller towns that don’t have enough restaurants with ratings to be included. But it’s likely that this star rating filter will become available on other types of businesses. So even though it seems like Google is downplaying the importance of needing a Google+ page, you still need to claim it and make it easy for your customers to leave a review with Google. Unless they start pulling reviews and star ratings from other sources, this is a Google-only game.
If a company doesn’t have any Google reviews, it’s pretty difficult for a user to find how and where to post a review. If there are existing reviews, you can simply click on the stars and then on the “Write a review” link. The only way I found to leave a review for a business that doesn’t have any is to:
1. Click on the business name to open up the business info box.
2. Below the business info box is a tiny text link that says “Feedback”, click on that.
3. This opens the map page and a “Report a problem” box where you can add or correct the info in that listing. Close that box.
4. The business info box will open and you can click on the “Be the first to review” link. Once there is one review posted, this complicated process won’t be needed again. It only applies to getting that first review posted.
NOTE: Don’t post your own reviews. Don’t have someone post fake reviews for you. DO encourage your clients/customers to leave a review for you. If you email your customers, the simplest thing is to include a link to your reviews page and remind your customers that you would appreciate a quick review.