Google has been making a public and hard push for local and mobile search. So their move to drop their local 7-pack in favor of a reduced local 3-pack has many SEO experts scratching their head and wondering why?
When asked by industry bloggers, Google responded, “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.”
Mike Blumenthal was first to notice the change. What he saw was that Google was no longer including their traditional 7-pack for local searches. Instead, a more limited 3-pack shows up in its place. The new 3-pack no longer includes the full address, a phone number or links to Google + My Business Page – which is odd all by itself given the big push for businesses to claim their My Business Page.
They did add store hours with opening and closing times that reflect the time of day the search is conducted. And, reviews remain. However, Google has been dropped and they are now referred to simply as “reviews”.
A real head scratcher is the fact that this new arrangement causes users to have to make additional clicks to get the information they are looking for. This flies in the face of conventional user experience thinking. Fewer clicks has been the norm. The new 3-packs make searches have to click through to the website or a Google Maps listing to get the information they require. Users can also click to expand the box and view up to 20 more listings.
While it remains to be seen what the true impact of this change will be, most industry insiders seem to agree that competition for the top three spots is going to get even fiercer. This is no time to panic though. Avoid the temptation to try and spam your way to the top. Solid SEO strategies still rule the day.