Note: I am heading out for a 5 day vacation. Responses might be limited. Please fill in the blanks for me and keep the conversation going. Dave would get lonely otherwise.
Google seems to have completed the roll out the new local search result with reports of its visibility from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, UK, Australia, South Africa and even Canada (which is usually last in these sorts of things).
I would suggest for the sake of clarity and expediency that we name the new display the Local Stack to distinguish it from the Snak Pak that is used in the hospitality searches. Regardless Dave Oremland has special dispensation and can call it the Crap Pack.
The simultaneous world wide release is different than many previous local display rollouts. I am wondering if that is due to the fact that the European anti trust issue around local has dissipated or if it was viewed as important to put the final nail in the coffin of G+ Local with one fell swoop.
The new display certainly provides an increased opportunity for organic results. I am not sure what will happen on clicks for Adwords but those businesses that were lower in the old display may feel compelled to double down on their Adwords activity.
The display aligns neatly with the new Home Service Ad booking tests and could easily be replaced in those market segments that rely on bookings. Obviously complaints about Google not showing answers and being evil will be heard. Google, being driven by the capital markets, has one overriding interest that supersedes all others regardless of their happy talk and that is profits.
This reduces opportunity in the pure local display on the front page but the total local opportunity may not be less as ALL links that previously went in disparate directions now head off to the new Local Finder (operative word is may) . That includes links that went to G+ but Maps as well.
The roll over that used to produce the Knowledge Graph now goes to the Local Finder. In that display there are 20 opportunities for visibility.
The lack of phone numbers will necessitate additional click throughs to the Local Finder. So much for Google surfacing answers on the first query but at least it increases local opportunities.
I am not convinced that exposure will come close to what has been possible in the 7-Pack but here’s hoping that the dashboard analytics (unreliable in the best of times) have been upgraded to handle the new display and can provide meaningful comparisons.
Clearly every link to G+ has been removed. This has been a long time in coming as has been in play for quite a while. Concurrently Google will also be removing “shell” pages, those auto created pages for non verified listings, from G+. Google+ is becoming Streams and as of now, its value as a local social platform is minimal.
Reviews, long disassociated from Plus are not really affected as they continue to display in the shadow box wherever they are selected from search, Maps or the new Local Finder. They continue as an element of the local Plus page but I doubt those ever got many views and will get fewer now. And seeing reviews is now a two click process into the Local Finder and then another click on the reviews. Not easy and not friendly.
A single location branded search still brings up the Knowledge Graph with phone number BUT a search for a brand that has multiple locations shows this new pack with NO phone number and requires what should have been a quick recovery search into a two click two step. Very bad form on that one.
There are some oddities in the display around service area businesses and those without websites as those two prominent icons are missing. As Phil Rozek has pointed out the current Local Finder seems to expose the exact location of those who have hidden their address. Not good for those seeking a modicum of privacy.
I would love for folks to send me their Local Analytics a week and a month from now as well as report on their traffic.