Update: 2:00 p.m. 11/05/09: They’re up, they’re down, they’re up again. Phone numbers have returned. Please temporarily store your tin hats.
The local world is buzzing this morning as it appears that Google has removed or perhaps lost the phone numbers from the Local Universal Results. Matt McGee noticed them missing from the Lucky-7 Pack and SEO Book noticed them gone from the Authoritative OneBox. There are also reports of fewer OneBoxes showing in results.
Of interest is that while they are gone from Local Universal results they remain in the Local Listing Ads:
Did Google misplace phone numbers for every business in the world? Are they planning on rolling out a call tracking system? Or were they just “neatening” up the display along the lines of other recent changes to better display ads? Earlpearl noted in an email: “My first reaction is that removing phone numbers rolls people into more clicks, less phone calls. Possibly a way to hopefully generate more click throughs. Possibly an experiment. Google voice is too new, too experimental to get a big value out of testing that yet, IMHO.”