Changes are expected in the Google’s Local Pack. One out of the three results in the local pack will be an advertisement. The announcement was made by Google at the SMX Advanced Local Workshop. The 3-pack, which in the past featured purely organic listings, would now include one ad at the top.
The photo is kind of grainy, but it should be enough to give you an idea of why this is so crucial. These changes should be a cause of concern for local business owners and those providing SEO services. It would basically change the way that local SEO is going to be played. Note the Ad label on the top listing
Problem for Business Owners
It is easy to see why this can be a huge problem for business owners. Paid for inclusion in local results means that businesses with enough money can ignore best practices, including SEO, and get top placement in local search results, as long as they have the money to pay for it. They can be at the top of the results without being the best business for the needs of customers. Getting included in the 3-pack was hard enough, but this latest change will make it even more difficult. With 33% of the space in local search results becoming devoted to ads, the competition to get a spot on local results just got a lot tougher.
In fact, it seems like business owners who play by the rulebook are the ones who will be squeezed by these changes that were announced by Google. These changes are aimed to benefit Google itself, since it would mean more revenue. There would be no lack of local businesses that would be willing to pay in exchange for getting a spot at the results. On the other hand, the downside of the changes would fall upon business owners and the users themselves. These downsides include:
Users will have a poorer experience
It is the good businesses that will get penalized
Will create poorer results because of prevalence of grey SEO tactics
The advertisements will become part of Adwords Extensions. It is going to be available to business owners whose GMB listings are linked with their Adwords Accounts. It might also become a part of Adwords Express.
DEALS for Hotel Searches
Another development is the addition of an ad related tag to its search results. The development would be a DEAL tag that would appear right next to listings of hotel. The new tags would show up as green. They would show when a hotel room is available at below the average rate, lower than what similar rooms are available for, or when a room is available at the discounted price.
It is important to note though that the DEALS tag would not automatically place a hotel at the top of the results. It would still be ranked based on its merits, but the tag would undeniably help it to standout.
How will the consumers react to all of these changes? People have become used to seeing pay-per-click ads on search results, so they might not even notice all of these now. The reality is that these would likely result in the deterioration of the experience of users.
So what do you think about all of these developments? Go ahead and share your thoughts with us on the comments section.