More than any other search engine, Google regularly update the appearance of their results page. We’ve seen hundreds of different SERPs showing, including brand search boxes, maps boxes, knowledge graph entries and rich snippets. This is for two main reasons:
- To improve the quality of results for users
- To ultimately improve performance of paid channels
Local search, especially on mobiles, is a key component of Google’s success and in the last month a new results page has been rolled out in the UK. This latest version is much closer to the current appearance of local mobile results.
1. A centered map
With the previous iteration the map was located on the right hand column, below any paid search ads that weren’t appearing at the top of the page. You could interpret this as the least valuable area of the search engine results page. Now, though, the map has been pulled into the centre of the page, directly above the local listings. Not only does this look more aesthetically pleasing, it captures more of the users attention as they scroll the page.
2. More negative space
Negative, or white space isn’t wasted space! It emphasises important elements, focusing on calls-to-action rather than cluttering the interface.
3. Clearer calls to action
Calls to action have become clearer, more defined, and more clickable. No doubt this will improve the impact of your local listings. It’s reminiscent of the mobile interface which is more optimised for user experience than the previous desktop version was.
4. Less options
The previous iteration of the maps listing showed anywhere between 4 – 6 listings per map snippet. Now, however, this is reduced to just 3. Great news for brands featuring in the top spot, less so for those lingering in positions 4+.
Why increase impact and reduce choice?
You’ll need to be in Google’s ‘circle of trust’ to be sure, but I suspect this is a precursor to paid local listings. Reducing the options for users increases the value of positioning in the top 3 results, whilst improving the impact of these listings makes paying for them more commercially viable.
Moz’s Dr Pete recently tweeted about new paid local listings appearing in Google’s SERPs:
Keen to stay ahead of the game, we contacted Adwords to ask about a possible rollout of new paid local results. Here’s what they said:
With advertising revenue representing the majority of Google’s revenue it’s constantly looking for ways to increase performance of paid channels, and the introduction of paid local listings may provide an invaluable opportunity for local service providers. What we may see are sponsored listing appearing in the top 3 results, whilst free listings are concealed behind the “show more” button at the bottom of the snippet. Of course, we’ll have to wait and see.
Questions? Thoughts? Tweet us @CandidSky.