Google continues to tweak and adjust the presentation of local search results on Google.com. I’ve stopped trying to monitor and track all the subtle changes and experiments. However yesterday Mike Blumenthal caught two different presentations of the Places “Onebox,” which appear when you do a business name search (e.g., “Toast Wine Bar”).
The first example below is the “current” version. The map thumbnail is the central visual element — and the Onebox dominates the page.
Now the “test” or experimental version of the Places Onebox. It compresses the presentation of information and shifts the map to the right rail. This allows more results to be shown above the fold and may be one of the motivations behind the test.
There’s also more “branding” in the form of a photo, which could equally be logo (see below).
Below is a closer view of the same page. There’s not much new information (other than the image), although you do see additional links to reviews in the newer version. The chief difference is the horizontal layout, which I find less compelling than the map-centric version above.
While the “branding” is potentially appealing the layout of the test Onebox is not as “clean” or easy to read from a user perspective.
Here’s another example for a national brand: Target. First the current Onebox, then the newer or experimental version.