Matt McGee in a recent post, Google Maps push further into regular SERPs clearly laid out some significant changes that Google had made in the Local OneBox. I would like to add to his list.
From Matt’s post:
In its post, Google is trumpeting the fact that this new display now shows rating/reviews to make comparisons easier. Thatâ€™s nice, but thereâ€™s a lot more going on here. Consider:
1. Gone forever is the text-only local Onebox display.
2. It looks like the number of ratings and reviews has gone up dramatically.
3. Google is very aggressive about using this display for anything closely resembling a local search.
4. Finally, very specific searches still bring up a single listing, not three.
Some additional thoughts:
1. The Local OneBox results now include a direct link to the business website. Thus a business will get site visits not just phone calls from a onebox listing and for the first time there will be an ability to measure results.
2. Google, in pushing organic results so far down the page and highlighting local results, is rewarding a bricks and mortar presence at the expense of a well optimized web site. There are plusses and minuses here but on net, I would choose reality as the preferable predictor of results.
3. Google has added somewhere between 10 and 12 entry points to their Maps product compared to 2 entry points in the previous incarnation of the Local OneBox. Given that there is little else to choose from “above the fold” the user either will visit the website or go into Maps.
4. There appears to be an increased use of the Authoritative OneBox. Previously it was shown when there was no competition locally but now is shown more frequently.
5. Google has changed the ranking algorithm for the results in the Local OneBox (more on this tomorrow).
Just as important are the things that haven’t been added or changed:
1. The coupons have not yet been rescued from obscurity and placed on the front page
2. Click to Call did not claim a place in the OneBox
3.While the highlighting of reviews may be more agressive, Google is still not updating reviews very frequently. This seems problematic.
4. They are still only showing three results. Why three? Why not 4 or 5 or even 6. The choice to stick with 3 denies many the opportunity for a listing.