Google’s local 3-pack of organic listings may begin to show ads for certain searches, bringing the number of organic listings down to just 2. This was first reported on by Joy Hawkins of Imprezzio Marketing who shared the news on Twitter during a presentation at SMX Advanced.
— Joy Hawkins (@JoyanneHawkins) June 21, 2016
The ramifications of this change mean that any business can become featured in the local pack just by paying their way to get there. That’s good news for advertisers, but could spell bad news for local businesses who have worked hard to earn a spot in the 3-pack.
The real question is: is this better for searchers? Google has always been about providing the most relevant answers to a searcher’s query. Until now, the local 3-pack has been a fairly reliable way to find high quality local businesses in a given area. Will an ad unit be welcomed by searchers who have grown accustomed to the organic listings featured in the local 3-pack?
The new local pack ad unit is not live yet and has yet to be spotted in practice. When it’s rolled out it will become another AdWords extension available to local businesses who have their Google My Business listing linked up with their AdWords account.
To clarify, the new local ad unit is different from the new local “DEAL” tag for hotel searches that we reported on a few days ago. The local 3-pack certainly is undergoing some changes as of late. Will this be the last of the major changes, or are there more coming? We’ll have to wait and see on that one.