It seems that Google has been keeping things interesting lately. Not only did they change things with the Panda update, but they have also redesigned the map packs that they show on local results.
In the past they've shown anywhere between 1-7 listings. Always with an odd number for some reason. Now it looks like they've settled on 3 as the magic number.
In addition to the reduced number, they've also stopped showing the phone numbers and addresses of the listed businesses. Allowing for directions and clicks to the website to be the prominent options. Maybe more important than any of these, is that the map section has been pushed directly under the ads. Thus increasing the importance of map rankings, and devaluing the organic rankings for local businesses.
So who are the winners and losers in all of this? Well it depends on your position, literally.
The biggest winners in this are the companies that were ranked “A” in the local map listings. They essentially moved to the top of the clicking totem pole. Followed of course by “B” and “C” results as they improved their positioning on the page without their rankings really changing.
The losers were for companies that had the top organic spots, they get slid down to the #4 result on the page, and in theory a lower click through rate. But no one suffers as much as the listings that were 4-7 or D-G on the map…they essentially got dropped from the first page.
A small group of businesses with multiple locations that showed in the map results may have also seen a drop in exposure.
So like we said, it all depends on positioning to determine if this was a good or bad thing for your business.
Contact us if you need help developing a local SEO strategy for your business.