New Local Listing Ad Layout & Whatever Happened to the 7-Pack for Web Designers?

Ross Jones, of 2 the Top Web Design, sent along a new layout for Local Listing Ads that he spotted on the search Web Design San Diego. Notice the lack of 7 Pack, Map & Pins and the display of the Local Listing Ads placed completely on the right side of the screen (click to view larger):
Picture 126

Obviously, if there is no 7 Pack, the ads need to go someplace.

The question that many designers, search firms, web hosting companies and advertising agents are asking is: What happened to the 7-Pack for all of those industries? The missing 7-packs have been reported world wide and has affected many internet and marketing related searches. There are two active threads in the Maps forums, here and here

For example none of the following show a Map or Local listing results:
-Marketing Firms Boston MA
-Local Search Marketing Portland OR
-Web Hosting Denver Co
-Web Design Los Angeles Ca
-Advertising agency NY NY

Google is apparently aware of the issue and has classified it as a bug. It appears that it was related to the previous problem of the OneBox showing too much. Here is Google’s response on 11/18:

Hi Everybody,

This looks like it’s closely related to the issue going on at the thread I’ve linked below. We realize there’s something going on here, and we initially pushed out a fix a while back. There was a little hiccup with the fix, which is probably why the results in Fresno may have gone back up and then back down as addoctane mentioned above.

The team is working on this issue. Stay tuned to the thread below where I will post an update as soon as I hear one.

Thank you all for your persistence!

BB

References:
[1]
www.google.com

So now all you web designers and search marketing firms whose heart skipped a beat when you thought that your keyword crammed title had been finally dinged, can now sleep easy and worry another day. :)

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
New Local Listing Ad Layout & Whatever Happened to the 7-Pack for Web Designers? by

38 thoughts on “New Local Listing Ad Layout & Whatever Happened to the 7-Pack for Web Designers?”

  1. Mike: Thanks for the update. While many google.com searches for the following phrase: (city name) advertising agencies are not generating a universal search map….the search phrase Baltimore advertising agencies is turning up amazingly wierd results.

    This takes us back a ways to when all search phrases for (city name) advertising agencies would always turn up wierd results including hotels, universities, law firms, etc. In fact anything but an advertising agency.

    I think you were on track when you referenced that there has to be some “categorization” of business types within Google maps algo from maps.google to a map in google.com.

    I’d like to get into that algo and see how this phrase is so off-target.

  2. Quick update. Sorry I didn’t check this first. The city name “advertisng agencies” search glitch…starts in maps.google.com.

    Start the search at Maps.google.com. Search for (city name) advertising agencies.

    Hotels, sports teams, museums, universities, etc. etc. etc.

    What happened to the staffs of the advertising agencies?

    Very wierd glitch. As you know, this search glitch was in existance for a long time. Google seemed to fix it after a while. At the very least real advertising agencies were mixing in w/ the non-agencies. Not anymore, though.

  3. What’s even worse than not having a 7-pack at all is having the 7-pack disappear and a onebox take its place. On and off this past week and a half, I’ve seen a “competitor” take over the onebox in Chicago using a PO box based, replicated subdomain of their main site with chicagoseo as the subdomain name. Looking at the User-Content area in the profile, you can dig deeper to see that the same people have created the same custom maps for 25-30 cities, left similar reviews across all areas, etc. That’s an embarassment for everyone involved…

  4. @EarlPearl

    Yes advertising agencies is certainly an odd. I am always humored by NYC Advertising Agencies with results including Macys, Sout Street Seaport and Whitney Museum. That search is interesting because it was not affected by this newer bug but advertising agency NYC was.

    @Taylor

    It seems that this problem and the excessive display of the OneBox are flip sides on the dial…Google tweaks it one way and too many OneBoxes show and if they tweak it the other, 7-Packs disappear.

    Mike

  5. and up here in the frozen north would just like to add that yes, we see exactly the same items happening here. the 7-pak has disappeared for instance for “Hamilton web design” – ie no map nor Local listings either….

    hmmm…gotta ponder that for a bit…eh?

    Jim

  6. Thanks for looking into this for us, Mike. It seems that Google has made some changes to the algo, but it doesn’t look good…

    When I search Portland Web Design organically and then click on the maps link, I get (what I would perceive) as a legitimate list of web professionals. However, if I were to search ‘Portland Web Design’ in Google maps directly, I get an entirely different first page of results.

    Weird.

  7. @Jim

    Yes the reports are world wide…Australia, England, Europe…it has been this way for several weeks. It appears to me that they have lost one of the nodes in their database….how that happens is beyond me.

    @Unleashed

    I am not seeing any Map or listing on the main serp for Portland Web Design…

  8. @Mike

    The ‘weird’ thing is when you search for ‘Portland Web Design’ and then click on the maps link in the upper left hand corner. The first page that displays is different from searching for ‘Portland Web Design’ in Google Maps directly.

  9. I don’t rely on my local area for my web design or internet marketing services, so the missing maps in those categories are not affecting me much.

    +1 for diversification.

  10. @Unleashed

    That probably has to do with having different map views? ie one generates one view and the other generates a different view…I would guess that if you have the same map view you would have same results

    @Stever
    It doesn’t affect me much either but it has to be having an impact in the larger markets…like advertsing agent nyc or internet marketing Los Angeles…I would think….regardless of it not affecting me, it has to be unpleasant if you were depending on it.

    I also view it as a canary in the coal mine sort of search…if Google has lost these, what else has it lost?

  11. You’re in a even smaller community than I, Mike. For us this created a need to have a wider reach than just our own areas. But you’re right, for those in some large centers, large enough they could depend on the local area, the dropped maps would be significant. For those that depended on the maps and were not well optimized for the organic results of same search terms, it must hurt.

  12. Trust me, its been very unpleasant.

    I was cracking into the top 7 for ‘Portland Web Design’ when the last update went through and I dropped to page 9. :-/

  13. It appears to me that entire keywords have been removed from displaying the 7-pak. I am not sure why this is happening but Google is definitely working on the LBC.

    A coworker of mine suggested that they could be removing the LBC listings that are not necessarily location based, or that have a heavy location manipulation. Where a doctor usually will not go across the country to help a patient, a web design firm can take clients from any location, same with an advertising agency, web hosting service etc.?

    @Mike…thoughts?

  14. @Kyle, I wouldn’t think it the case that the web design firms are being taken out because they may or may not be doing business outside their actual area. If they have a physical address in their city then they are as eligible as any business to be listed in Maps.

    There is obviously a separate database of business types (their keywords) to tell Google when to show a Maps pack or not in the Universal results. The old 10 pack only appeared for a small set of business types when it first rolled out. Over time it was expanded to show for more types of businesses, as they added more locally relevant biz type keywords to that list.

    Seems to me someone/something screwed up and web design categories were removed from this master list.

    There are other categories that are FAR more guilty of using too much location manipulation, yet are still showing map results in universal search. Locksmiths, Limousines, Escorts, Pay Day Loans, and other industries drowning in spam are still showing maps.

  15. @Kyle
    I agree with Stever on this.

    You could postulate all sorts of reasons for this to occur…too much spam in the web design industry, desire for Google to increase adwords income, etc etc etc

    But the facts suggest a bug:
    -it happened around when they fixed the OneBox issue
    -It has happened to a broad range of industries not just web design
    -It has happened world wide- Google is sophisticated enough to know when the 7 packs are working and when they are not and drive their results accordingly
    -Google says it is a bug

    I had thought through the many possibilities and came to that conclusion which is why I hadn’t written about it earlier…I thought it would just resolve itself.

    The fact that it hasn’t means that it is more complicated than I originally thought, but I still think that it is just a big hiccup.

  16. “-It has happened to a broad range of industries not just web design”

    Key point, Mike. It almost seems to me that they continue to try to revert back to a version of the algo that is “just about right” and then try to clean up bugs from there.

    I’ll disagree with Unleashed here though (btw we should meet for coffee sometime) — I think the organic results are totally relevant for “Portland Web Design” and in general they’re more established businesses than the ones that appear in the 7-pack. In my view it’s a positive user experience, even though my own company ranked better in the 7-pack.

  17. @vedran

    Right you are! Web Design Hong Kong and Web Design Melbourne both return results (although the Melbourne ones are pretty spammy) while Web Design Toronto and Web Design London are not returning results.

    Interesting on each of the searches for “web design” the following ad showed (always in the upper right corner):

    Free Google Webpage
    Create your presence on Google?
    Add photos, hours & more. It’s easy

    Google.com/LocalBusinessCenter

  18. @vedran

    Right you are! Web Design Hong Kong and Web Design Melbourne both return results (although the Melbourne ones are pretty spammy) while Web Design Toronto and Web Design London are not returning results.

    Interesting on each of the searches for “web design” the following ad showed (always in the upper right corner):

    Free Google Webpage
    Create your presence on Google?
    Add photos, hours & more. It’s easy

    Google.com/LocalBusinessCenter

  19. As bummed out as I get, I can clearly see that the Maps Team is concerned and IS creating, slowly but surely, a world class algo. They should send Mike a check. In my opinion Blumenthal has done more to help Maps than any other single source.

    Carl, if your listening, send Mike to Cali. House, car and waterfront view!

  20. or…maybe just a suite at the The Calistoga Ranch and a reserved table down at The French Laundry would suffice….and room for some of us collegues to vist too!

    no matter what G offers, I’d just think that SUMTHIN should come outta Mountain View, eh!

    :-)))

    Jim

  21. Thanks for passing this bug info along. I was wondering what had happened to the 7 Pack for SEO companies up here in Canada as well. (But wasn’t loosing too much sleep over it.)

  22. From my end, it seems that the 7-pack has disappeared for most, if not all, internet marketing related queries, at least in the US and Canada.

  23. Thanks for the shout out :)

    I’ve got 2 weird associated issues.
    1) My GLBC dashboard still shows quite a few impressions & actions over the last 7/30 days. More than I’d expect from just displays within Maps searches.
    2) # of actions regularly exceeds # of impressions with 86% being “Clicks for driving directions”
    Did 192 people really need driving directions to my web design company in the last 30 days? Maybe I need a bigger parking lot ;)

    I’m assuming it’s some clickbot. Anyone else see this?

  24. @Ross In some displays of the local listings (3 packs and 1 packs), Google shows a link for “xx reviews, directions, hours and more”. From what I’m seeing and my guesses, any click to that could get counted in the “clicks for driving directions” number which somewhat artificially adds to the count.

  25. @Ross
    re 1) My GLBC dashboard still shows quite a few impressions & actions over the last 7/30 days. More than I’d expect from just displays within Maps searches.

    The impressions is ALL showings of your business whether in Maps, the 7-Pack, and I believe your website in the main serps…

  26. @Taylor:
    I could believe that those count although I’d expect them to be more likely categorized under “Clicks for more info on Maps” than under “driving directions”… however….
    a) The 3/7 pack haven’t been displaying for the “Top Search Queries” listed in the dashboard. b) It’s really difficult to get a 1 box to come up for my business. The impressions & actions are just way higher than I’d expect.
    So I’m hard pressed to believe any of the stats in the dashboard.

    @Mike:
    Impressions from maps, 1 box & in 7 pack, yes. But in main serps? I’m not ready to believe that yet.
    It would seem to explain the higher numbers but there’s too much of a disparity when I compare the dashboard trends vs my site analytics.
    Is there something that leads you to believe the dashboard impressions include normal serps?

  27. Just found your site. Thanks for the article. It confirms I’m not senile (yet).

    A few months ago when I was checking the keywords seo portland, I could have sworn the local map came up, but now nothing. Thanks for confirming it’s not me, it’s Google.

    Interesting about Melbourne, I checked it through a German proxy, and got the same results.

  28. My keywords are still not showing their 7-pack. Kind of makes me wonder if all the spam reporting I did this year finally triggered something on Google’s end to take down an overly spammed set of geographic keywords.

    Here we are at the end of December, has anyone seen a reemergece of the missing 7-packs?

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