More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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Which Performs Better? High Pack or Organic Rankings?

Ask 10 local search consultants and you'll get 10 answers.

But BrightLocal did a survey that sheds some light on what many local search consultants think.

<a href="">SEOs believe 'high' local rankings deliver greater response than organic</a>

Key 'Takeaways' From This Post

51% say local results deliver the greater response for their clients
30% say organic & local have the same impact overall
19% say organic results deliver the greater response for their clients

Don't just read the key takeaways... Head over to read the full post for graphs and also key insights from pros like Mike Ramsey, Joy Hawkins and Adam Dorfman.

So in the BrightLocal survey local (pack) results won out by a significant margin. However increasingly, especially with snack packs and other changes to local, I see consultants saying they are focusing more on organic.

Here are just a couple comments from the thread about: <a href="">Google Testing Paid Home Services Packs</a>.

I find going after local organic search results (not packs) to be a better ROI for our clients and a better use of their budget then either GMB or AdWords. YMMV.

Dan: Having been doing this for a long time for local smb's (pre google maps), I'd agree. Organic results are GREAT. On the head terms one needs links to compete. On long tail...ooooh la la...there is a lot of value there with a lot of content.

Obviously there are several pros and cons to each.

So what do you guys think?

Obviously there is a lot of value in both, but if you could only focus on one, which one would it be???

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Hey Linda: Thanks for starting the conversation. As to the survey, what can I say. Its a survey. I'd like to know who voted for what. If one never develops content, I'd question the vote.

But I've done both. I'd suggest doing both. I wouldn't rule out one or the other. As an agency I think content creation should be charged at a premium. Hey not all clients can afford it. So focus on the Pac.

We have created some content that has worked great for years and years and years. On the other hand some of the failures stick with me. One in particular took a collaborative effort over some weeks. Heck that was a lot of time investment. We tested it for a very particular target audience. We got raves from the test. Boy were we psyched and excited. Content and links from totally new urls. And really great thoughtful provocative, compelling content.

And at the last moment the content changed. And we published it anyways...and we got nothing from it. Really nothing. No traffic, no mention, no links.

but with the winners and the losers on content creation we've had overall benefits and the excellent gift that keeps on giving. After a lot of years of practice we have a better idea and are more capable of producing better content that works. Each good one takes time, though. If you are an agency creating it, I think it should be priced at a premium.
but with the winners and the losers on content creation we've had overall benefits and the excellent gift that keeps on giving.

A good example is a Google search for: Google Places Optimization

Most of the top ranking results are posts someone wrote ONCE back in 2011 or 2013 - so 2 - 4 years ago. They still rank on top and I'm sure still get clicks and traffic. (Since most SMBs still call it Google Places, they still search for that.)
Linda: I'll throw out one type of thing that can work for local.

How do I... or hot to become.... or long tail phrases like that do apply to a lot of local services. The types of search phrases generally don't turn up Packs.

Suppose you teach Samba dance lessons in San Francisco. Add a page with an appropriate title and content on the "how do I learn the samba" type of search...or "where can I learn the samba" type of query.

Those types of content development do turn up traffic. They work. Its one example. There are a lot of them. Finding the appropriate terms for appropriate smb's is the trick.

How much traffic and how well do they convert??? Google won't tell us how much traffic we get for that type of page...but if you are getting landing page traffic on a page of that type....IT IS WORKING.

There are a variety of things of that nature. They generate traffic where the Pack doesn't appear.
I definitely think for the long tailed phrases organic wins. Although we don't have specific search query data outside of AdWords (or BingAds), I think local may contribute to smaller returns because of the types of general searches those packs appear in. I don't have enough data to support this (yet), but I tend to agree with Dan/Dave that organic would convert better because of the very specific queries that can be answered with well crafted content.

I tend to think more people are researching when the packs appear, and haven't really made a decision yet (depending on the industry). Longer tailed targeting through good content which answers the question could lead to higher trust in the business, and end up with a contact.

Again, these are more speculation based on past observations. I don't have hard data to support these positions, but hope to in the future.
We pitch the pack to small, local businesses where visibility in their town is primary want. The way G and bing position the pack on the page draws the user's attention (the SMB also) naturally. User looking for local provider, location and quick access to phone number = local pack.

Organic is powerful also especially for visibility within those neighboring towns/communities. Just takes a LOT of time building and optimizing pages, creating content and more. A "LOT of time" = a "LOT of money" and most small biz just will not pony up for it.

Organic is a research tool for users. The Local Pack is for acquisition. "I know what I want. Now I need NAP".
I think it really depends on where your clients generally sit in the local pack as well.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the heat map study (or maybe they did and I missed it) that Van Bockern did.

Obviously there's more to actual conversion than just ranking, and it's up to the expert to decide what "performs" means (converts vs drives traffic vs likes the FB page, etc). I think the study and survey side-by-side are pretty interesting!
I think it all boils down to the type of business you have. For example we own a divorce mediation and coaching firm in NJ and IL. Heat maps show that the most popular menu choices on our site (even more popular than lead about divorce mediation and book an initial meeting) are the locations pages.

In our world people want someone close to their home when they're getting a divorce so the local map pack has been huge for us. Our terms are all in the legal sphere and highly competitive. yes there is long tail but there are only so many ways you can ask "how much alimony am I going to receive?" Long tail for us while good, it not as robust as perhaps other businesses.

My vote is map pack all the way but I do wonder if I show in the map pack because of he work I do on my site, blogging, SEO-ing, etc.

Interesting questions...

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