Again Google Local 3-Pack Makeover!

Google continues to update the display for local search results in the Local Pack by removing the website, directions and call buttons from listings, and replacing with an image.

Over the past six months we have seen numerous tests in the pack display. Today we are seeing a widespread (re) appearance of the snack pack type display that shows images instead of the click to call icon.

Previously this display was exclusive to restaurants and hotels but today (anyways) is being seen across most types of retail and service industry results. Although NOT on lawyers or doctors.

We have seen this style before but the rollout today seems more broad based. A test? The new normal?

The imagery persists across the local finder requiring at least two clicks in to get to driving directions or click to call….. the rabbit hole appears to be getting ever deeper.

Here is a comparable screen shot taken last week that shows the same search result and comparable screen :

Whether this is the new normal this week or not, it clearly demonstrates Google’s desire to:

  1. Keep searchers at Google and
  2. Force them into the Local finder.

This has plusses and minuses from the local business POV. It makes it harder for users to take immediate action and but it provides users with a greater range of choices from which to choose. The former hurts those ranking in the 3-pack and the latter helps all the others. What it does for any given businesses traffic is unclear.

Obviously this design offers up significantly more choices to the user and in doing so moves away from the idea of “the 3 best” companies that is implied with the 3 pack. If this were tied to the horizontal local finder that you now see in the Google iOS app, the idea that the listings are more equal would be even further reinforced.

Like with most recent changes this one, if it is a real rollout, seems to offer a mixed bag for the merchant and plus for Google and a few more steps for the searcher.

A Little History: Three, Ten, Seven, Three

In 2006, Google launched the One Box. In terms of local listings, this was also known as the very first “3-Pack.” This box was a blessing to many wishing to receive local business information quickly.

In January 2008, Google began to unveil its new 10 pack. The 10 pack was a godsend to many SEO professionals offering local listing services to their clients, as they could prove real ROI (“Look, you’re being highlighted by the Google Gods!”).

By October 2009, the 10 Pack was cut to the lucky 7 pack (Lucky for some, anyway!). Many local SEO professional saw this as a challenge, but not one that was too difficult to master. Google has been very straightforward from the beginning, explaining what was expected of local businesses in their online presence in order to appear on the new 7 pack.

In 2015, after a long, strong run, the 7 pack that local SEO professional have grown to love and master was replaced by what is now known as the Google Snack Pack.

How To Dominate The Google Snack Pack & Local SEO

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In this phase, I create careful, manual Social Citations Submissions, adding all media and content which again results in high authority, legit links and citations. I submit to powerful & authoritative social media sites.

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