Is the Future of Local Search Packless?

Google wants to make search and actions from search fast, content rich and profitable. They want to become the place (not unlike Facebook) were people go, the consume, they buy. Unlike news organizations that have the chops to do AMP pages most small businesses will take years before they achieve that level of being able to hand over large content chunks specially formatted for display within Google’s presentation layer.

Well the fast and achievable alternative for Google is to have small businesses put their content directly on Google and then just wait for the call.

Over the past two weeks we saw several “experiments” in the local space. Google rolled out a click to call phone number associated with a web page result. At the time these results were only showing on page two of the search results. Google also allowed some small businesses to create a content stream directly in search via their new Google Posts product.

This search result which was showing One Pack two weeks ago and a 3 pack this past weekend is now showing no pack results but lots of local information in the form of phone numbers (both paid and free) on the first page AND content directly posted to Google via Google Posts.

Is this type of search result possibly the future of local search?


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Is the Future of Local Search Packless? by

15 thoughts on “Is the Future of Local Search Packless?”

  1. Top of the page is ad dominated. Google is less a search engine and more a pay to play engine. Not encouraging.

  2. Perhaps monetizing the 3 pack just doesn’t cut it for Google. I get the posting aspect, They may be wanting (and it makes sense) more fresh and up-to-the-moment content with regard to Local. How they plan to monetize all this will be interesting.

  3. I read about the experimentation with home-based ads in California, where “sponsored” local services are shown. Since google makes almost all its money from ads, I would always align any development to help with their ad conversions.
    My opinion is that Google isn’t showing the numbers out of the goodness of their heart, this is merely a traffic measurement experimentation to further their ads’ conversions, so I don’t expect it this change to last.

    Always the ads!

  4. A) Any word yet on where they’re pulling those numbers from? I assume they’re just scraping the sites, unless they’re pulling them from the KG. It doesn’t look like either of those sites have schema’d NAPs, for whatever that’s worth (not much).

    B) I think you linked to the wrong post with “click to call phone number,” but let me know if I should tone down the copy editing. 🙂

  5. Google was all about mobile at SMX last week. In that context this SERP example makes a lot of sense. Also of note is that their Adwords people were talking about how scrolling through a bunch of results is not necessarily bad user experience on mobile (in response to questions about removing Adwords results from the right rail and increasing the number to 4 on top for competitive searches). I think looking at mobile results like this is a way to understand how Google is looking at it’s results. Mobile first, desktop second.

  6. Couldn’t agree more with Troy regarding mobile optimization and the ppc right bar being axed off, it’s the reason why huge Fortune 500 companies websites desktop versions are being simplified to look the same as their mobile site, the future is mobile!

  7. Google is experimenting (probing) in all this. The changes are relentless and to keep up with it and other social advertising changes takes a herculean effort, makes SMBs want to throw in the towel for sure! Blogs like this one are so critical to keep in the loop.

  8. Thanks, Mike. I’ve noticed some big changes lately for “Cincinnati handyman” — with strange two packs containing very poorly optimized GMBS (with no actual address – but a city, state from another state!) and a terrible website. The next day it was back to three pack.

    I second Joe’s question — where are they pulling the phone number from for Andrew’s? It doesn’t appear to be from schema or the header of the site.

  9. Interesting enough not all organic results show in-SERP phone number (click-to-call) feature. I doubt that it is all up to the markup … for instance from your example both and don’t have the markup yet the latter has an organic listing enriched with a phone number. Maybe it is related to all-pages (footer for instance) inclusion of the business contact details …

    I agree with you on the ‘packless brave new world’ though, it is shame that slowly G is trying to eliminate the ‘need’ of maintaining a company site instead of investing in in-SERP monetization.

  10. Google wants to provide you with the best results as fast as possible. The search term “engagement rings buffalo” could be someone just looking for prices or comparisons of models. However, this might be a buyer that wants to marry the nice gal he is dating. If you provide this user with a quick way to complete his purchase, he’ll probably use it. If not, he’ll continue searching and then Google will offer him comparisons or whatever he types in.
    My point is that Google wants to cover those buyers that are ready to open their wallets and don’t need to read reviews, compare prices etc.
    I can actually relate to this as in most cases I know what amount I am willing to spend on something and I don’t really need to explore and click here and there – I just need to click on the phone number.

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