Google has made a few changes to its local search “Onebox” display, and the changes seem like they might be in reply to some of the criticism they received since introducing the new display in late January.
Background: The link above points to a January 29th post I made showing a new Google Maps display which started appearing on any Google.com search that resembled a local search. The new display offered a map and three local business listings. If you were one of the three businesses showing there, you were thrilled. But many were critical of the new display because of 1) how much “screen real estate” it took up, 2) how many new links (sometimes 15+) now appeared before what used to be the #1 listing in the SERPs, and 3) how only three businesses really benefited from the new display.
1.) The new display still has the same “A-B-C” listings of three businesses, but the map image now shows several additional red balloons, which makes it much more obvious that there are additional business matches.
2.) Rather than separate “reviews”, “directions,” and “information” links for each business, there’s now just one link to get that information in the business profile. This means there are now about 8 links showing up before what used to be the #1 listing — about a 50% reduction.
3.) The business names are in a much smaller font than they were before, and are much smaller than the listings below (outside the OneBox).
There are some other cosmetic changes, but I think those are most newsworthy. Let’s compare, shall we? Here’s the new display:
And here’s what it used to look like. Notice the differences in balloons on the map, font size on business names, and the multiple links beneath A, B, and C:
(Notice, too, that the A-B-C listings have changed — something that hasn’t happened very much since this new display was introduced.)
Impact: I think there are several reasons/implications for the changes:
1.) The changes make the Maps Onebox display easier on the eyes from a user perspective. It looks cleaner.
2.) It minimizes many of the criticisms leveled at the old display by both business owners and search marketers. The Onebox takes up less prime real estate and now has fewer links above the old #1 listing.
3.) At the same time, the addition of additional red balloons in the map and the more noticeable “More results near Portland, OR” link should help promote additional click-throughs into Google Maps.
That’s Not All… — Bill Slawski posted a reader tip today on SEO by the Sea which shows this same Maps Onebox display in the middle of the SERPs. How’s that for something different?
Bill’s post, in fact, was the inspiration for the digging that led to this post. Thanks, Bill!
[tags]local search, google maps[/tags]