It’s official: Google has reworked the way local search results are displayed, removing four of the seven local businesses that get the valuable first-page real estate.
The former 7-pack, as our industry calls it, displayed seven local businesses on the SERP (search engine results page), along with full addresses and phone numbers, plus a pin on a Google map in the right column. Today, just three businesses are shown, and exact addresses, phone numbers, and Google+ links are gone. The map has moved into the spot where the four missing businesses were, and that’s opened up space for more ads in the right column.
Our take on this change:
- It’s arguable whether the change is good or bad for users, but it’s clear that it’s good for Google: they can now get more ad revenue. The image shows above-the-fold content for a search for “local SEO company Jacksonville FL.” There are only three non-paid ads displayed out of 14 total results.
- Some businesses that formerly had first-page rankings now don’t. Adjusting to this will require changes in the way we do local SEO and in our approach to organic rankings, which become more important.
- Users will have to click through to the websites of the businesses shown in the new 3-pack to get complete contact information. Again, it’s debatable whether this is a good thing — on one hand, you want people to go to your website to see more than just your contact information, but on the other hand, there are now more clicks between search results and actually getting the info needed to contact your business.
Bottom line: The competition for the three spots is going to heat up and digital marketers will have to again up their game.