Google earlier showed top 7 results for local searches on the web. But now, since August 6, Google has reduced the number of results to only 3! It now shows only the top 3 businesses in the local area instead of seven. Thus, the 7-pack has now become a 3-pack block, known as the ‘Snack-Pack’. This will obviously lead to fewer phone calls and sales for those businesses that appeared in the fourth position or lower. Thus, many local players are upset with this change because this is impacting their clients that fall below the 3rd listing in local results. But, this change is definitely going to be beneficial for those businesses that are shown in the first three listings by bringing them more business.
After being asked the reason for this change, a Google spokesperson said, “We are constantly exploring the best way to bring a better search experience to our users. This update provides people with more relevant information, including photos, reviews and prices, for searches that have multiple results for a given location.”
Apart from showing fewer business listings, Google has also redesigned it to fit better with mobiles. There are many other changes seen in this Google update.
- The specific addresses for the businesses have been removed. Now, only the street name is shown. In order to get the complete address, the viewer needs to either click through to the website or on the map listing.
- The phone numbers of the businesses are also not shown. In order to get the phone number, the viewer again will either have to click on the listing or go to the company’s website. In the mobile version, the phone number does not appear but, there is an option of “Call” for each listing to automatically call the company.
- One thing that has been added is the working time of the companies. The store hours of each listing is shown, including opening and closing time. It also shows if a particular location is going to be closed down soon.
- Earlier, Google used to show the local business card for the listed companies that would be displayed on the right side of the listing. But, this function has also been eliminated. In order to see the card, the viewers will now have to click through to the secondary local page.
- The Google+ links for the business listings have also been removed. Google+ seems to be turning out less and less important to Google over time.
- Though it shows only the top 3 listings, Google provides an option of “More” where it shows 20 additional local listings in regard to the search query, when clicked. Though it could be easy to stand somewhere in the top 20, the main focus would be of businesses to stand in the top 3 to be clearly seen by the viewers. Thus, this step that Google has taken is going to see a lot of competition for the top 3 listings.
Google has been rolling this change worldwide, beginning with US, Europe, UK, Australia, South Africa and Canada. So, this appears to be a rollout and not a test. Obviously, with the reduction of the 7-pack showing only 3 listings, Adwords will start becoming increasingly important. Also, in order to stand in the top 3, the competition might lead to more spam or negative SEO attempts. We will have to wait and watch what results are brought about by this change from Google.
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