Google 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.
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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