We have some more big changes happening in the local space for Google local business listings. Over the course of the day Thursday, Google began switching over the usual 7-pack local listings to all 3-pack, AKA Snack Pack local results. This means that instead of showing 7 businesses in the pack and in the map, those spots are now only available to 3 businesses.
7-Packs Now 3-Packs
Mike Blumenthal was the first to notice the usual 7-packs had dropped down to only 3. The move to 3-packs rolled out throughout the day yesterday. And in an unusual move for local, Google launched this change both in the US and internationally at once.
Exact Addresses Removed
Google has also removed specific addresses from the snack pack listings, instead only listing the street name. This requires a searcher to either click through to the website or the map listing in order to get the exact address.
Phone Numbers Removed
Searchers will no longer have easy access to the phone number of the business. They now need to click through the listing or get the number from the website. The mobile version (detailed below) doesn’t display the phone number but does have a “Call” option for each listing.
Google+ Links Removed
Also removed are the Google+ links we have all become familiar with. Because Google has pushed for local businesses to claim their page officially, this change is pretty interesting.
Store Hours Added
They have also added in store hours, including opening and closing times, depending on the time of day of the search.
Reviews No Longer Labelled “Google Reviews”
Gone are the labels on the reviews listing them as “Google Reviews.” Now they are simply called “reviews” with the number of reviews for each business still included.
We are used to being able to scroll over local listings to see the local card for the business displayed on the right hand side. This no longer happens, to see the “Card”, you have to click through to the secondary local page.
When a user does click through to a listing on any place other than the “Website” link, searchers will see additional local listings and the map. There are 20 local listings per page, and users can click through to see additional ones.
The card on the right is similar to what we normally would have seen as the flyout on the search results page.
How it Looks on Mobile
Mobile also sees the complete address moved, with “Call” being the notable option here.
For comparison, here is how it used to look as a 7-pack, for the same local search.
And here is the identical search now:
We started seeing the snack packs early this morning, and Mozcast data seems to have caught the very beginning of the changeover, with the drop in 7 packs and the rise of snack packs.
Two varieties of Newer Packs
Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz mentioned that he is seeing two types of new packs, but they are both currently combined.
@jenstar Unfortunately, my data is currently combining both varieties of newer packs, which are subtlely different. Old packs are gone.
— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) August 7, 2015
With so many businesses used to being featured in a 7-pack that are now completely removed with the 3-pack, we are going to see a lot more competition for those 3 spots, and potentially more spam or negative SEO attempts as a way to compensate for this.
This is a huge shakeup for local. I have reached out to Google and will update when I hear back.
Added: Here is a thread on the Local Search Forums on the changes.
Added: Here is a quote from a Google spokesperson on the new local changes.
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.
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