On August 6th, users began to notice that the 7-packs that usually appears in the SERPs for local businesses in the twinkling of the eye were replaced with 3-packs. At the end of the day, 3-packs had completely replaced the 7-pack in SERP for all countries. It’s strange for Google because they usually test out local changes in the couple of locations.
The very next morning confirmed everyone’s expectations: 7-packs were gone, and 3-packs now control the search. It means that 7 companies or businesses will not longer be shown in the pack and map; it will be available only for 3 companies.
Why would Google do that? The answer is quite simple – it’s convenient for mobile users. Since the quantity of mobile search grows every day, Google made a decision to make the mobile search results more suitable for smartphones, and 3-packs perfectly fit the screen needs. The removal of 7-pack now gives the same user experience for both, mobile and desktop users.
Here is what the mobile users see
The same picture appears for the desktop users
As you can see it looks pretty the same, just a couple of buttons seems to be different. According to the Google policy, it’s not surprising that the SERP now looks this way; the way mobile users will find better. Let’s go through the difference from the 7-packs to see how it can affect your business model.
1. No more exact addresses and phone numbers provided
Google has removed the full address and phone numbers from the snack pack. Instead of these the user can only see the street name. Here is how it appears now for both, mobile and desktop, kind of users.
Even if they click through to see the additional results, the address and phone number will not going to show themselves.
Only then the user chooses the company from the list on his left, the exact address and phone number will finally appear.
Nevertheless, for the mobile users clicking the “see more” option, provide a list of TOP-7 results for the search query. It looks almost identical to the list of the desktop results, but with the one difference – they can see the full address.
So answering your question, yes, it’s possible to get traffic even if you are not a TOP-3 member. However, you’ll likely receive this traffic from the desktop users.
2. No more Google+ links
That’s a very interesting change. Everyone used to create the Google+ page for their business, but Google wants to stop it and force the company owners to call into existence their own official page. So, the photo integration from the Google+ is in the past now.
But you still can direct the reviews to the Google+ page because there is Google still getting their reviews from the customers. Brian Barwig commented this renovation the following way:
Continue focusing on Google+ reviews as well since those are the only reviews Google is showing in the Local Pack.
3. Working hours added
Now, users have the possibility to see the company opening and closing times, according to their time zone, date and time of the search. It will obviously affect your business positively.
4. No Flyouts
Users used to be able to scroll over the local map to see the location of the desired business more precisely. Unfortunately, it no longer happens. To see the “Card” they have to go to the “more” page for additional information.
The user clicks on the one from the 20 local listings, and the map and the additional information appear. The “Card” is similar to the one we used to see as the flyout on the SERP.
5. New sponsored ads display
If the user searches for more, he will see the interesting page
Don’t you think it looks familiar? Maybe, it’s because these sponsored ads remind you of the new 3-packs? I would rather say they’re quite the same. That’s why many SEO specialists are worried that this way Google wants to replace the local pack with paying ads or make the pack consists entirely of sponsorship advertising. Many users will not even notice the change. And it may do a disservice for your business model.
So, what now?
Some experts think that this is a brand new user experience, while others doubt in this new marketing model. Nobody knows yet how it will affect your business since to see the additional information you have to visit the “more” page. Barwig commented the situation in his Twitter:
It’s possible users think this new design is such a poor user experience they click on the Map in order to get the full 20 Pack of listings, Factors such as Click Through Rate, Bounce Rate, Time on Site and Content may be even more important now. If a website is poorly designed and doesn’t have much information, a user has 19 other businesses they can compare against. Again, time and analysis will show if those 3 spots are as coveted as we think.
So the fate of these new 3-packs is driving by users, so will see if these changes will be permanent or not.
Find out how to deal with local results shakeup in the next part.