For a search engine that keeps pushing for high quality local and mobile search, it seems incongruent that they would drop the 7-pack in favor of a more limited 3-pack. But that is what Google has done. Their local pack of seven listings has been reduced to three, while exact addresses and phone numbers have been remove altogether along with links to Google + My Business Pages.
Ironically, this new reduced 3-pack without exact addresses or phone numbers actually increases the number of clicks a user has to go through to get the information they need. That is not a great user experience. Under the new setup, searchers are required to click through to the website or Google Maps listings. Users can also click to expand the box and view up to 20 more listings.
Google did add store hours, including opening and closing times, that reflect the time of day the search was completed and they retained the reviews but did drop the name Google and now simple refer to them as “reviews.”
When asked why by several industry bloggers, Google said, “We are constantly exploring the best way to bring a better search experience to our users. This update provides people with more relevant information, including photos, reviews and prices, for searches that have multiple results for a given location.”
Mike Blumenthal broke then news on Aug. 7 and the SEO industry seems to be waiting to see what the true impact of the change is to those left off the top three.
The competition for the top three spots is going to get even fiercer, but this is not the time to get desperate. Avoid the temptation to try and spam your way to the top. Solid SEO strategies still rule the day.
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