The 2 Types of Local 3-Packs You Need to Know

The local 3-pack is one of the most important aspects of SEO (search engine optimization) that local business owners need to know about. If you don't already know what the local 3-pack is, it's the first three businesses that show up when you search for a type of service or business in your city.

local 3-pack google

Let's say you need to take your car to the auto repair shop. You'll type something like "car repair" or "car repair in Minneapolis" into Google. Before showing you the standard 10 organic search results, Google displays a widget that highlights three businesses in the auto repair industry with their star ratings, address information, directions, and website links provided. This is called the local 3-pack.

Of course you want your business to show up in the local 3-pack for relevant search terms. Therefore, you must understand the two different types of local 3-packs and what it takes to rank for each.

Branded Local 3-Pack

As its name suggests, the branded local 3-pack consists of three business locations from the same brand. The branded local 3-pack shows up when users search for a specific brand. Type "Jack in the Box" into Google, and you'll see for yourself that three different Jack in the Box restaurants in your area will show up in the local 3-pack. It's obvious why only Jack in the Box brands would show up. Searchers would be annoyed to see another fast food restaurant when they are craving Jack in the Box and just want to find the closest or best location.

Branded local 3-pack results can sometimes show in the non-branded local 3-pack. Whether that's a mistake or not is unknown. It's possible that the algorithm is mistaking a non-branded search for a branded one. In that case, Google will eventually fix it because they're constantly improving their search engine. On the other hand, if it's not an error, then you'll need to keep in mind a branded local 3-pack may appear for a non-branded search.

Non-Branded Local 3-Pack

The non-branded local 3-pack consists of three different brands. It won't show up for a branded search because users already know what brand they want. Examples of searches that could deliver the non-branded local 3-pack include "chiropractic care", "lawyer Miami", and "Chinese takeout Miami".

Additional Differences Between the Branded and Non-Branded 3-Packs

The widget for the branded 3-pack is slightly different from the unbranded local 3-pack. A branded local 3-pack contains the letters A, B, and C whereas the unbranded version doesn't have letter labeling. Another difference is the non-branded 3-pack contains stars and reviews but the branded 3-pack doesn't. Perhaps Google thinks including reviews and stars for a branded 3-pack would be irrelevant because the searcher wants that brand. However, reviews could still be useful because one location may have a rude employee whereas the other doesn't. The third difference is non-branded local 3-packs indicate the primary category for the business but branded local 3-packs don't.

What Do You Need to Know to Rank in the 3-Pack You Want?

There isn't a lot of research on which ranking factors are most important for a branded or non-branded local-pack yet. However, Joy Hawkins, a local SEO expert, has been paying close attention to the variations between the local 3-packs and has provided the following tips for local businesses:

  • Keywords in the domain name hold more weight for non-branded 3-packs than branded.
  • The ranking factors for organic search results are more important for non-branded 3-packs than branded.
  • Hidden addresses seem to hurt rankings for branded 3-packs. This would make sense because it's inconvenient to searchers if they aren't given an address for the business.
  • Location is more influential for branded 3-packs than non-branded.


In order to rank in the local 3-pack, you must understand the differences between a branded and non-branded 3-pack. Once you know the differences, you can adjust your strategy accordingly. Use the ranking factors that SEO experts have found to matter more for the type of 3-pack you're aiming for and you might make it into the pack.

Contact us for more information on ranking in the local 3-pack or if you're in need of other SEO services.

Trenton MillerComment