Local SEO: Snack Pack vs Ranking Locally. What’s the difference?

Local Snack Pack vs Traditional Organic Rankings 1

Ranking locally is something almost every business should be worried about. You want your website to be shown when people are searching for your product or service in your area.

But did you know there are two ways to show up on the search results page? There are

  1. The traditional organic listings, which have links to your website, and
  2. The “local snack pack”, which show businesses on a map, ratings, hours of operation, and contact information.

In some cases these results can be the same:

Local Snack Pack vs Traditional Organic Rankings

For other search queries it can be completely different:

Local Snack Pack vs Traditional Organic Rankings 2

Moz conducted a survey asking SEO experts what they thought were the top localized organic factors and they top snack pack factors, and neither of the top 5 were the same.

In this post I will go through the top 5 for each and let you know the basics about each factor.

Top 5 Localized Organic Factors

The localized organic factors primarily depend on what is happening on your website.

  1. Domain Authority of Website

Is your website new? Have you been penalized by Google in the past? Then this might be an issue for you. Domain authority is something your site builds slowly over time by providing searchers quality content.

  1. Quality of Inbound Links to Domain

Domain authority is also improved by getting high quality inbound links. When other sites link to yours, Google sees this as a vote of confidence that your site is important and will reward you with high ranking.

Beware of low quality links. If Google sees that you have a high number of low quality links, it may even hurt your ranking.

Here are some suggestions on how to build local links:

  • Blog posts
  • Videos
  • Host community events
  • Sponsor local charities
  • Create great community content
  1. City, State/Province in Landing Page Title

Include the location you want to rank for in your title. This means if you want to be ranking for “Carpet Cleaning Vancouver”, “North Vancouver Real Estate” or “Vancouver Web Design”, include those keywords in your title.

You’ll notice that we have “Vancouver Web Design” right in our title:

Local Snack Pack vs Traditional Organic Rankings 3

  1. Click Through Rate from Search Results

The click through rate (CTR) is the % of people who click your website after seeing you on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). You can increase your CTR by including keywords in your title, having well written meta description, and by having a strong brand that people will know to click.

  1. Topical (Product/Service) Keyword Relevance of Domain Content

Does your website have the content that people are looking for? It’s important to have a specific landing page set up for every product or service your business has. This way when someone is searching for “product/service + location” you will have a page that can serve exactly what the searcher needs.

Top 5 Local Snack Pack Factors

Unlike the localized organic factors, the snack pack rankings depend on what is happening off your webpage. These factors include your Google My Business (GMB) profile, citations, and the location of you and the searcher.

  1. Physical Address in City of Search

Is your business actually in the city you want to be ranking in? If not, it’s going to be difficult for your business to be shown in the maps. Google only wants physical businesses showing up in the snack pack, so it includes a verification process when registering GMB account.

  1. Consistency of Structured Citations

Citations are mentions online of your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) across the internet. Google wants you to have this formatted exactly the same. This means that “300-602 West Hastings Street” is not the same as “Unit 300 – 602 W Hastings St”. You would think that Google would be able to figure something like this out, but the formatting has a large impact on you ranking.

  1. Proper Google My Business Category Associations

When setting up your Google My Business account, make sure you are picking the most relevant category or categories. If you are a restaurant that also does catering and weddings, you’ll need all three.

This is something that needs to be set up by the owner. If you have not claimed your account you will be missing out.

  1. Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

Google wants to show the results that are closest to where the searcher currently is. If I am in the Olympic Village looking for sushi, I don’t want to know what’s available in East Van.

Unfortunately as a marketer controlling where people are when they are searching is out of your control…

  1. Quality/Authority of Structured Citations

When building your citations, start with the basics:

  • Google My Business
  • Yelp
  • Yellow Pages
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Canpages

These won’t just help your Google ranking, they will also drive referral traffic to your site. Also look into niche directories and social sites in your industry. Houzz and Homestars are great sources of traffic for Construction and Design companies.

Protip: Google your competitors and see what they are ranking for.


I hope this helps you better understand why your business is ranking (or isn’t) locally on Google. If you have any questions about your company’s online strategy, I would be happy to chat.



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