Google Testing New Local Listing “About Page” Layout – Just What are They Thinking?

Google is testing a new enhanced “card” layout for the About page on local listings. The new layout, visible to me in Firefox only, was pointed out by Mary Kelly Gaebel of ADP.

The big difference is that the page now can be displayed in either a single, two or three column layouts depending on browser window width as opposed to the current fixed two column display. Reviews will now follow the same columnar structure as the rest of the page and will not be limited to a current one column display. While this view is not yet visible in mobile, one assumes that if the view were to become universal it would likely push to mobile as well.

The page adds three iconic based calls to action near the top; review, directions & photos. The review summary has been moved up the page and photos have been moved down the page. Geo information including street address, category, hours, description and map are now consolidated into a single card near the top titled “Contact Information. “Similar Places” from around the web no longer show and “reviews from around the web” have been moved up the page to be nearer the top.

The real question about this change is why here, why now. The About Page of the local listing has become virtually inaccessible on Google. Since reviews were pushed to the front page and Places search was replaced with a the new Google Maps, it takes searchers anywhere from 2 to 4 clicks to get to the page. I am confident that visitation has plummeted. It is hard to understand a visual makeover of this page when there appears (at least to an outsider) that there are so many other more critical issues to deal with… Makes one think of Nero fiddling while Rome is burning.

Here is a screenshot of the three column width view (click to view larger):

three-wide-editied

 

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Google Testing New Local Listing "About Page" Layout - Just What are They Thinking? by

26 thoughts on “Google Testing New Local Listing “About Page” Layout – Just What are They Thinking?”

  1. Thanks Mike, I wonder “why now” too.

    I love the horizontal review display.

    I’m still not seeing it. Have been checking since I 1st heard about it on the 17th when Ryan Hill posted about it at the forum. If anyone wants to see another view. See 2nd screenshot: http://localsearchforum.catalystemarketing.com/google-local/11479-google-local-about-tab-changing-just-different.html

    Ryan was only seeing it when NOT logged in. Are you seeing it in FF logged in? I’ve tried every which way and don’t see it yet.

  2. Great coverage, Mike. I posted on this a couple hours ago (just minutes before this one).

    As I said there, seems to me they’re pushing reviews hard. The “Reviews Summary” now occupies a place of honor, up there in the top-left.

    What surprises me is that the “Reviews from around the web” section is much more prominent than it was before – no longer buried at the very bottom.

    As you say, the paradox here is that nobody sees the pages unless there aren’t any reviews on them.

  3. Have you noticed the order changes, when you change the width of the window?

    1-col: contact info 1st, review scores 2nd, pictures 3rd
    2-cols: review scores 1st, contact info 2nd, pictures 3rd
    3-cols: pictures 1st, contact info 2nd, review scores 3rd

    Could this have to do with:

    1-col: people need contactinfo / map first as they search from a mobile device

    2-cols: people do research and are in need of reviews for their process (most likely from a tablet)

    3-cols: people want to get an impression through pics first, prior to continuing their search process

    ???

    Am curious about your opinions…

  4. I think this is some weird attempt by Google to try and make the Google+ Local Business pages more “social”. Social has been a big push at Google for the past two years and I wouldn’t be surprised if they kept adding more clumsy updates to facilitate that.

    What really surprises me is the very poor and cluttered design. This is very unlike Google – did they just let a random intern design that page?

  5. I like it – it’s not mind blowing… but it ‘works’ – “Maybe some day, the page will be visible.” <— I think you are right Mike, it's just a matter of time before these pages become more important (and ads become more prevalent).

  6. Mike: I’m seeing the 3 column view today and I’m also not seeing references to other sites, even on the g + pages without content.

    Mike: In a broader context than local there are a lot of comments from webmasters and sites wherein they are having problems with google making changes that push google content over a website’s content, comments that most changes are moving to ever more monetization by google and replacing an overall Search engine perspective with a google perspective. Its been occurring web wide. There are all sorts of examples wherein google is changing the results it shows that are more favorable to google and less favorable to the sites.

    Google made a change late last January that stripped web sites of the value of their images. It crushed the traffic to websites that relied on image search. The traffic went to a google page. One of our local smb sites had an image ranked #1 in image search for a long time. While really not relevant to the business operations, it did generate a lot of traffic. Since that change we lost 75% of that image traffic. It never recovered.

    The google + pages replaced google local pages. I don’t believe google local pages ever got much traffic. I also don’t like that google is taking content from webmasters and smb operators and creating pages google owns. That was the case with google places pages. Its the same case with google + pages.

    At some point google could take the pages it controls and vault them over the content of websites.

    Why not?

    Google local or google places pages were pretty simple. They probably didn’t get much traffic.

    Google + pages have the opportunity to be much richer. SMB operators/webmasters are filling the sites with info.

    If they aren’t being easily seen now…they could be in the future. Of interest this issue of google directly providing the answers (and doing so with others’ content) is now being discussed subsequent to Matt Cutts’ presentation at PubCon.

    So even if the Google plus pages aren’t getting much traffic and visibility if google likes the qualilty down the line it would be easy to highlight these pages.

    For example if a variation of the PAC or the Carousel it would be easy for google to present the information in a way wherein the google + page (that google controls) is the highlighted link. Afterall google controls its search engine and controls how it presents information.

    So even if the 3 column change isn’t relevant today because of very little traffic to the google plus pages that could change at any time. Its only subject to how google wants to present data on its search engines.

    Even if individual sites get miniscule traffic in the aggregate google gains a lot of data on visitors to these pages and how they react. Frankly it assists google in making these pages richer and more user friendly.

    The ultimate problem in my view though is that google controls the pages not us…and frankly as we fill these google plus pages with content we are giving our content to google scott free without payback.

    Beware down the line.

  7. Google already is keeping folks in local on their site.

    Google, in prominently displaying the local knowledge panel and pushing reviews to the front page is already doing this. In a sense I would rather they send them to a page where the user could:
    1)see my description
    2)see more of my photos
    3)see my owner responses to reviews

  8. Mike:

    As a business operator for a couple of smb’s, some of which have worked better than others: For the one’s that run well we want customers to get to our content.

    Over the years we’ve heard repeatedly on totally different kinds of smb’s, that are services, that the content we got across in our sites helped to convince them to go with us.

    In that these smb’s have great honest reviews, that is a big winner in helping to get new customers.

    I want them to get to our content, on a site we control. I don’t want them to go first and foremost to content that google controls. We get inquiries from customers getting to us via other sites, and various referrals. The content and descriptive qualities aren’t as “rich” as on our sites.

    Google controls the layout of its search pages and uses algo’s or their decisions on what shows most prominently and can get most traffic. My fingers are crossed that they don’t put content they control with pages that are theirs over content we control that are pages that are ours.

    Frankly the last thing I want is a google controlled page filled with content I created that also has links to competitors or any other way to move off the page.

  9. Hi Mike – I noticed this change yesterday when I claimed 4 listings for 4 separate businesses (all in the restaurant business). After I had claimed them with the owners by phone, after completing the listing profile to 100%, it was automatically converted to a Google+ Local (social) page. I’ll mention too that I think this is rolled out globally. I’m in Canada and all my clients are in Canada.

  10. Colan just reported at my place and Phil confirmed that the changes rolled back and now we have the old design again.

    I just checked and that’s what I’m seeing. Update flew the coop.

    I think it will be back though. Anyone still seeing it?

  11. @jackson. This auto upgrade is “the future”. They were introduced several weeks ago and are rolling out slowly. It is independent of the design upgrade.

  12. @Linda
    I saw the three column design today on Safari (not logged in) at about 11am. Just went in and checked the same listing and it’s back to the old design.

    @Mike
    I’m asking your question too: Why here, Why now? Google has made it so hard to get to the About page … why are they enriching it if no one can access it anymore? But then again, don’t get me started on the new maps design. Many reviewers talk about how clean the design is. But to me, it’s hard to see the business name and where’s the functionality. Seems like the Google gods are in such a rush to go mobile … that they just are not thinking through sound functionality & useful information and “why” search engines are useful.

  13. In the UK we are seeing some 7 pack results with a link for reviews (add or view) and for the Google+ page. Review links still bring up the reviews window pop-up but there is at least a way to get to the brand page.

    Interestingly, if you do a local hotel search often the Google+ page is replaced with a drop down for the sponsored hotels listings (can upload a screenshot somewhere if helpful).

    It all seems a strange way of doing things. Are they trying to integrate all of this into the search results and keep people away from Google+ business pages? Are they trying to improve the business pages and just keeping people away whilst they test things.

    The system seems in to be in perpetual chaos of late!

  14. Well, you know, I think a good dose of LSD may be what is needed to enable us to see and understand the Google masterplan for local!

  15. Hello Mike Blumenthal

    As we know that google launched a new google Local listing place which is totally different than old. i just tried new place and fill all the information which necessary but at end when submitted all the information, google giving me only one option for PIN which is “PIN VIA POSTCARD”. Do you know how i can get “PIN BY SMS OR PHONE” ???????? I am very distrub will you help me regarding this. and one more it is possible that we can see our listing at option A,B,C OR D with 3 hours or 1 Day by any technique.

    If you have answer so plzzzzz tell me…

    Thanks

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