Google is always making changes to their search results page to find out what searchers find the most useful. Whether it’s experimenting with the local carousel, removing Google authorship or any other number of changes they’ve made over the years, Google has made it clear that they’re all for change.
The most recent change to the search results involves what’s known as the “Local pack”. This is the section that shows up before the normal organic results when you search for local busineses. For instance, searches like “dentist in alexandria va” or “restaurants 22030” will trigger the local pack to display.
Previously Google would display 7 different business listings in the local pack, with the option to click to find out more. But a recent change has sliced the number of businesses in the local pack down to 3. Not only that, but they have also removed information such as the business address, phone number and a link to your company’s Google My Business. It’s a more streamlined approach with minimal information.
When you click on one of the results in the local pack, you’re taken to Google maps with a list of more results plus more information about the particular business you clicked like a link to their website, reviews, and web results for their company name.
The change is on both desktop and mobile searches. The difference with mobile searches however is that business listings have an option to call them when you tap the business information.
What This Means For Your Business
This change has an impact on your business for a few different reasons.
One of the most important reasons this change is important is because if your business previously showed up in the 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th spot in the Google pack, you no longer show up now. Instead, searchers will have to click the “more” button to see you. That places an even higher emphasis on getting your company to show up in the top 3 local results. Keep in mind that the order in which businesses appear in the local pack will vary depending on what location the person is searching from and their personal search results.
As a result, you might receive fewer phone calls or traffic from people searching locally since they’ll be more inclined to choose one of the first three businesses that pops up in the local pack.
Another way this impacts your business is that it actually helps make the organic search results below the local pack more prominent. Since searchers no longer have to scroll past 7 listings to see the normal search results, they stand out more. So if your business previously showed up on the 1st page of Google but not in the local 7 pack, the change might actually work to your benefit.
An interesting result of the change is the removal of a link to your company’s Google My Business page. It doesn’t show up in the local pack or even in the maps results. This could be a sign that Google isn’t prioritizing these as much anymore. We’ll have to wait for more information to be revealed on this though.
Overall the change is very interesting and only time will tell if Google decides to make it permanent or if they’re just experimenting.