For ages — through OneBox results and its successor of Universal Search — Google Local results have sometimes shown on regular Google search pages, with three local listings and a prompt for more results. Except now that seems to be changing, with 10 results showing.
Last week Paul Jahn at Search Engine Guide discovered that as many as 10 local listings were showing up on Google search results beside a map. Mike Blumenthal has also been following this development closely for the past several days. Google now appears to be serious about showing as many as 10 local listings beside the map and appears to be phasing this into results around the world.
Ten local links are now being seen in Australia and, I’m told, India and various places in the US. Search Engine Land editor-in-chief Danny Sullivan says he sees it in the UK as well. However, despite trying in numerous ways, I have not yet been able to duplicate this myself.
Here’s an example of the familiar, “old” presentation of local search results on Google.com:
And here’s what the new 10 links presentation looks like:
I had thought this was simply a Google Labs experiment, but other sightings, as indicated, seem to confirm that Google is changing the volume of local links it presents to users on Google.com proper. Over time, placement in these top listings has become very significant and, in one case, disappearing from one of the top positions had a severe impact on traffic and business for a local florist.
We’ve asked Google officially for an understanding of what they’re doing and will postscript or write more when we hear back.
Postscript: Google said today that the reason it’s showing more links is because usability testing revealed that many people didn’t realize there was additional local content available beyond the three listings, despite the “more results . . .” prompt. Accordingly, Google said that with the 10 links it is hoping to signal people that there is much more local content a click away.
The ranking of those ten results is based on a range of factors, including the query, proximity, availability of ratings/reviews and their quality, and several other variables.
Google also said that it wouldn’t always show 10 results; it might still show three sometimes or one if the query is very specific.