Google’s Local Search Results, also called the 3 pack or Local Pack display above organic results when a user searches for a local business. The Local Pack consists of three businesses and a map of the relevant area. You see it every time you search for a local business, such as a restaurant or a law firm.
What’s New In 2022?
In December 2021, Google rolled out some updates to the local pack. Most attorneys are now noticing this in early 2022. There were two big changes:
- An algorithm change. Google adjusted the algorithm which selects which businesses will be displayed in the local pack.
- A cosmetic change. Google made some cosmetic changes for desktop users and updated the look and feel of the local pack.
Google’s Local Search Algorithm Update:
Google tweeted that this algorithm update rolled out between November 30 and December 8, 2021.
The biggest change that attorneys will notice is going to be the fact that Google is now placing less weight on the law firm’s name. For the last several years, law firms with keywords in their firm name have enjoyed a significant advantage over competitors. For example, a law firm called “John Smith Accident and Injury Lawyers” was likely to outrank a firm called “The Law Offices of John Smith”. Google has reduced the amount of “weight” given to the name of the business.
Google also adjusted some other factors. How much they adjusted these appear to vary from city to city and niche to niche. In some cases, businesses are displaying less frequently the further they are away from a user.
According to Google, the factors they use to determine local rankings are relevance, distance, and prominence. These factors are open to interpretation, however, in general, if a firm’s website ranks on page 1 or 2 in organic search, the firm has decent, fresh reviews, and the firm is located within a few miles of the user performing the search, chances are pretty good that they’ll display in local search results.
For further reading on the algorithm change, please see my coverage of this update on my blog here: Google Local Search Results Algorithm Change Impacts Lawyers December 2021.
Local Pack Cosmetic Changes:
On December 9, 2021, Google updated the layout of the local pack. For the last several years, the map was displayed on top, and then three fortunate law firms displayed underneath. Now, Google displays the law firms on the left and the map on the right.
This change impacts all business types, not just attorneys. The change was purely cosmetic. Here’s a screenshot of the new local pack for personal injury attorneys:
Moving Forward In 2022
With the holidays now behind us, most law firms are likely going to notice either more or less calls coming in depending on their visibility in the local pack.
While Google has made some changes, you may not need to. For most firms, their primary focus should usually be to focus on good content, organic rankings, and obtaining good reviews.