One of the saving graces for some businesses with the switch to the 3-pack is that if the business ranked #1 for the search query, they could still show up above the local pack results. Google was showing one organic search result above the 3-pack, and occasionally two if there were no AdWords ads to display.
Now the 3-pack is above the organic results and the first organic search result now appears below the pack. The AdWords ads still appear above all other results at the very top of the search results.
This change will put additional pressure on businesses to ensure they are showing up in the 3-pack, as now the only way for them to show up above the 3-pack would be through running ads in Google AdWords. It also means that standard SEO for organic rankings alone won’t pay off as well as it has in the past.
Here are some examples:
The Google local sponsored listings, the Home Service Providers ads, being tested in San Francisco also do not have any organic results above them, although AdWords do not appear above the sponsored area either.
This change seems to be showing up for all users, both in the US and internationally. This is one of many changes we have seen since Google switched from 7-packs to 3-packs for all local results.
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