Google 3 Local Pack – New Display – Test or Rollout?

Over the past six months we have seen numerous tests in the pack display. Today we are seeing a widespread (re) appearance of the snack pack type display that shows images instead of the click to call icon. (H/T to Zachary Palmer of Divot Agency in Seattle who pointed this out on G+)

Previously this display was exclusive to restaurants and hotels but today (anyways) is being seen across most types of retail and service industry results. Although NOT on lawyers or doctors.

We have seen this style before (see this 1/17 screenshot) but the rollout today seems more broad based. A test? The new normal?

View of the new 3 Pack from search. Click to view larger.

The imagery persists across the local finder requiring at least two clicks in to get to driving directions or click to call….. the rabbit hole appears to be getting ever deeper.

View from the Local Finder. Click to view larger.

Here is a comparable screen shot taken last week that shows the same search result and comparable screen :

Image on the left if the Local Finder display, image on the right is the Snack pack in search. Click to view larger.

Whether this is the new normal this week or not, it clearly demonstrates Google’s desire to 1)keep searchers at Google and 2)force them into the Local finder. This has plusses and minuses from the local business POV. It makes it harder for users to take immediate action and but it provides users with a greater range of choices from which to choose. The former hurts those ranking in the 3-pack and the latter helps all the others. What it does for any given businesses traffic is unclear.

Obviously this design offers up significantly more choices to the user and in doing so moves away from the idea of “the 3 best” companies that is implied with the 3 pack. If this were tied to the horizontal local finder that you now see in the Google iOS app, the idea that the listings are more equal would be even further reinforced.

Like with most recent changes this one, if it is a real rollout, seems to offer a mixed bag for the merchant and plus for Google and a few more steps for the searcher.

Screenshots were taken using MobileMoxie’s Mobile search emulator



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12 thoughts on “Google 3 Local Pack – New Display – Test or Rollout?”

  1. Mike:
    One day later and I’m seeing a mixed bag on the phone’s being shown or not shown in mobile pacs. In the DC region for searches in suburban areas I’m not seeing jewelers showing the phone icon. I am seeing the phone icon for lawyers and dance classes. I guess more to be revealed.

    On a side note: While I strongly disdain information from gmb insights as being mostly unsubstantiated, consistently short of what wmt or any analytics data shows on clicks….and remarkably inaccurate (in our cases) for the breakdown between recovery and discovery searches….GMB provides one piece of data I find interesting—-PHONE CALLS.

    I don’t know the actual source of this data. Do you? Does it come from clicks on the call icon in the mobile pac??? Have they ever articulated where this data comes from?

    While I strongly disdain and distrust GMB data for many reasons (that I’ve listed several times)….the phone data is interesting in GMB and I don’t get that information anywhere else. In our cases…in GMB….phone calls are NOT that fewer than clicks…per gmb. I assume the GMB data comes from mobile call to click icons in the mobile pac.

    Should the pac reduce click to calls…well as you say above…it can lead to changes in searcher behavior…possibly more visits to the “local finder”…possibly fewer visits or leads.

    Its not an insubstantial change at all as far as smb’s should be concerned.

  2. @Dave
    All G says is: This section shows when and how often customers called your business via your listing on Google. At the top of the section, “Total calls” gives the total number of phone calls in the timeframe you’ve selected.

    So I assume that it is click to call tracking like you said.

  3. Based on the limited data I see it would be a shame for smb’s to lose the call to click option in mobile.
    A shame for smb’s and probably a bonus for google.

    (nothing new there)

  4. I can see why they would make it harder to get out of a search, in order to drive more ad impressions and clicks, but how could “trapping” people into Google Maps be anything but a bad thing from a users perspective?

    It seems to me that Google is losing it’s way as a solution engine and become more of a platform to trap people on in order to ensure they are the main ones making money on the web.

    AMP is another ‘trap’ program, keeping people in their mobile search results with YOUR content.

    1. @Clint
      There has long been a problem with Google anointing only 3 businesses with the imprimatur of authority.

      I would suggest that it might very well have to do with where the customer is in the learning and purchase cycle.

      If, for example, they have decided to buy jewelry then they may want to look at more than Google’s top three choices in any given category. And perhaps seeing the Local Finder results is more helpful to that searcher so they can pick from a broader array of locations and quality than offered by the 3 pack.

  5. Still only seeing this on food services and hotels currently in Canada. This seems like a poor idea for Google to implement from a user experience point of view.

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