Over the weekend Google made a big change to how it presents local search results. Up till Friday Google would show what was popularly know as the “7 pack” which included seven local results like the example below.
Globally this weekend Google replaced the “7 pack” with a new “3 pack” format, as below.
Apart from only the top 3 listings being shown, the other notable changes are that phone numbers no longer show and the link to Google+ pages have disappeared. The latter not surprising, given Google basically killed off Google + at the end of July.
Clicking on the Website icon links for any of the 3 results takes you to their website, and similarly clicking the Directions icon opens up Google Maps to show directions. Less obvious is the More link under the third result and clicking this opens the Local Finder with up to 20 results as below.
Clicking on a result in the Local Finder provides more information, including a phone number.
Why should you care?
If your business has relied on being in the “7 pack” of Google Local results but wasn’t in the first 3 rankings you have a problem. Overnight your visibility has diminished dramatically. The winners will be the top 3 results who now get far greater visibility. This also benefits normal organic results which are now less over-shadowed by the “3 pack” because it takes up less real estate on search results page than the “7 pack” did.
If a business doesn’t make the cut in the 3 pack and doesn’t appear in top organic results the immediate short term fix to stay visible in Google search results needs to be spending money on AdWords. A point noted by many cynical about why Google has implemented this change
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Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting.Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations.
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