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Google 3-Pack Local Results to Become 2-Pack with Paid Listing

SMX Conferences in the past 2 years have often been the venue for surprising announcements from the Google team, and this year’s SMX Advanced conference in Seattle was no exception. Joy Hawkins of Imprezzio Marketing broke the news of the inclusion of paid results in Local Pack listings from Google’s presentation yesterday, June 22:

 

 

Unfortunately Joy’s quick screengrab is a bit blurry, but the sleuths at BrightLocal have mocked up a clearer visual example of what these new results will likely look like:

google local 2 pack
Note the ‘Ad’ designation on the top Local result.

What Do The Google Local Pack Changes Mean for my Business?

What some of us have feared for some time now seems to finally be coming to fruition. Google’s Local Pack results have been somewhat of a market equalizer in terms of online search visibility, giving prominent search placement to the best businesses, not just the businesses with deep pockets. It seems that this visibility platform for local businesses will fundamentally change, leaving small business owners in the dust as they are pushed out of results by paying customers.

Make no mistake, this will make life harder for small business owners who rely on organic search to generate business, and the SEOs and marketers who support those businesses.

From a statistical standpoint, the competition for local search real estate has also increased immediately by 33% – even when not considering that the top position is now for sale to the highest bidder, the loss of screen space and opportunity for competition is a loss for everyone (except Google).

New Local Extensions for Google AdWords

Joy also shared some interesting information on Google’s new AdWords Local Extensions as a result of the local pack changes:

The local pack Ad inclusion is not yet rolled out and hasn’t been spotted in the wild – yet!

According to Joy these ads will be part of Adwords Extensions which will be available to local business advertisers who have their GMB listing connected to their Adwords Accounts. Presumably they’ll also be available via Adwords Express

Google Ads ‘DEALS’ tag to Local Hotel Searches

Google will now feature time-sensitive deals and offers on lodging and hotels in local search results, denoted with a ‘DEAL’ tag as shown in the screenshot below. The SEM Post originall reported on the new hotel deal tag, which will be displayed in two major use cases:

  1. When a hotel is offering rooms that are significantly below their normal rates;
  2. When a partner is offering a specific deal or discounted price well below market rate

An interesting factor to point out: Though Google has added the ‘DEAL’ tag, which will no doubt increase visibility and encourage clickthrough, the tag will not have an effect on placement in the local pack – hotels will still need to beat each other in rank based on merit, not just the bottom line price of their rooms.

Questions to Consider

In light of these significant changes to Google’s local search results, consider some of these questions:

  1. What other implications does adding paid results to local have?
  2. How will consumer search behavior change as a result?
  3. Will you consider paying for local pack results placement?

Sound off in our comments below!

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