Snak Pack Rolls Out Interface Update

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 9.36.25 AMGoogle seems to have finally finished rolling out a Snak Pak update that layers a Hotel Finder like experience on all hospitality, food and entertainment searches. Colin Neilson wrote about some of the tests in early July as did Brad Brewer. Barry Schwartz noted the rollout in hotels several days ago. It appears to be international in scope as Petra Kraft noted that it is in Austria and likely all of Europe as well.

The interface, which I am referring to as the Local Finder,  is a vast improvement over the recent past and actually allows for both relatively easy recovery as well as discovery of new related opportunities.

Since its introduction last fall, the Snak Pak has been a poor user experience with a very modal feel on the desktop. It mimicked a mobile experience and the user had to drill into a single record and then back out again and in again if it wasn’t what they were looking for. As Dave Oremland has noted, it sucked.

The new interface, while still not showing critical contact details on the front page (and I thought Google was all about answering questions? Go figure.), does take the user into a functional list + Map view that allows them to get specific details as well as explore other locations.

The view is very similar to the one that used to be in Maps with the exception that 1) it offers a list view of 20 businesses and 2) the search bar if used again takes the user automatically back to the main page of search.  It is an interesting balance between the carousel of old, maps and search.

Although for my tastes, I would prefer a way to stay in the Local Finder view with new local searches rather than once again bouncing back out to the main search results page.

While I don’t like the fact that critical contact details are not divulged on the first page and there is no way to stay in the view for additional related searches, it is a vast improvement over the display that we have lived with on these types of searches for the past year.

From a strategic point of view, it would appear that it is one more reason NOT to visit Google Plus for these additional details. Or into Maps for that matter which has, with its recent interface upgrades, forgone its discovery capabilities. This is effectively a lightweight, fast Local Finder.

If you are interested in exploring which terms trigger the Snak Pak, you can find more information here.

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 9.37.10 AM
Food & recreation searches deliver the Snak Pak which when now selected take you into a Local Finder interface

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 9.36.40 AM
If you select the “Restaurants near buffalo ny” link you see the list with a Map and have the ability to drill into each listing for more information
Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 9.36.25 AM
If you select a specific restaurant from either search for the Local Finder you will see the Knowledge Panel overlay the Map area.

On a related note, Moz Cast picked up what looked like serious testing of Google showing the Snak Pak across a broader range of searchers during that this same time period.


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10 thoughts on “Snak Pack Rolls Out Interface Update”

  1. Huge improvement over the previous Snack Pak and as you mention, another reason to not visit G+. Only a matter of time before G+ is phased out completely.

    Nice feature which also allows a searcher to sort the Local Finder listings by Rating/Price/Hours/Price/Cuisine and presumably many more.

    Wonder how this will change ranking factors in Local, if at all.

    1. Brian
      Yes it is a definite improvement.

      I did not find more faceted search options other than the ones that you mention in Hotels and Restaurants. In that it is like the old Carousel.

      I assume that this is a visual upgrade only but it does offer a better opportunity if you don’t show in the Snak Pak so in that sense it seems somewhat more fair.

  2. When I read your headline – Snake Pak – I was expecting some new super cool Google product, or a scathing pack review. Glad to see it’s not bad news! 😉

  3. Haha Keith, I read the “Snake Pack” typo in title as Snack Pack anyway and didn’t even notice, since I knew what the post was about.

    Siri probably did it!

  4. Mike: I agree. This is better than what has been what you generously have called the Snack Pack. I was calling it the Crap Pack, or more descriptively the “No Information Pack”.

    This current view provides more choice. I know from past experience that searches for something like “restaurant/city name” or restaurant type and city name are among, if not, the MOST voluminous search terms in google. Italian restaurant Dallas, Hamburgers Dallas, Pizza Dallas, etc etc.

    This view is better for that type of search. It provides more choices. The map behind the knowledge box at least gives one a geographical perspective. If you know where you are relative to the restaurants on the map you can “begin” to get some perspective.

    Its still lousy in my mind, though I would say it doesn’t suck as you referenced I said before.

    Okay if we were using google’s five star rating system I’d give it 2 stars rather than the 1 star, the Crap Pack/Snack Pack deserved.

    Overall it still is designed to “starve” restaurant sites from traffic from what is probably or most certainly the most used type of local search phrase. There is a link to the restaurant web site in the knowledge box…but come on, its certainly not highlighted.

    Of course ONLY Google knows how many searchers click on the link in the KB. Nobody else has any idea. Nobody. Google has ALL the information.

    I do have old data on some activity to sites from search phrases for search by city, and a little data comparing that type of search to a search by name. The search by type is far more voluminous.

    Incidentally since Google unveiled the Crap Pack last year, I still don’t see many ads for local restaurants in Google. Yelp carries more of them than does Google, at least in my view.

    Google may be starving restaurants of traffic to their websites but the “subtle power play does not seem to be working to get this vertical highly monetized.

    Now on the hotel side its a totally different story for monetization.

  5. @Keith & Linda

    I was going for the ever more cool “Snak” rather than Snack and as you guessed, my Mac auto corrected it into oblivion. Thanks for the heads up.

    I too read it as Snak. 🙂

  6. @Dave

    I agree that it not the ideal interface and shouldn’t hide critical contact info on the first search.

    It is however one way to 1)be sure that folks want local results, 2)drive folks into a more diverse set of results and 3)offers up a way to do additional segmentation.

  7. 😀

    Mike: Lets face it. Sometimes Pack results in Google aren’t all that good. Sometimes I believe Google is changing Pack results for their own needs, not for better information.

    And then sometimes Pack results are just pure lousy. Try a google search for mobile phone stores Vienna Virginia

    Go to the 5th result, letter E. Hover over the address info to pull up the knowledge box.

    Tell me that is a good result!! 😀

    I’m tongue tied. Can’t even think of a quip on that result. 😉

  8. Google local is awful. It’s just awful. So much potential, so much “not getting it” at Google. Just terrible.

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