Google Search rolled out an update earlier this week, whereby they changed the map in the local pack search results from a static map to an interactive map for users. This new feature will allow users to zoom in, navigate around, hover, and click on various businesses on the map where previously, clicking on the map redirected users to the Google Maps interface.

 The interactive map further allows users to view additional results and information through the freedom to interact with the map, as through hovering over a business’s pin on the map, a user will see the business name, ratings, and review count. Previously, only the three top ranking businesses featured in the local pack had their information shown.


Previous Google Search Local Pack

(Source: Whitespark)

The above is the layout of the previous Google Search local pack map. The map illustrates the static nature that outlined that the top three ranking businesses only appeared in the direct results.  There are additional pins on the map but users were not previously able to interact with these pins nor see the details of the business. Google slowly began redesigning the local pack search results map in early January 2022, which showed more local businesses, and fully rolled out the interactive map in late February 2022.


Latest Google Search Local Pack

(Source: Whitespark)

There are numerous new features of the interactive search results map. The most obvious is the freedom of navigation, whereby users can navigate around the map and hover over various businesses present. There are buttons on the right-hand side of the map to allow users the option to zoom in and out of the map. The user can additionally drag to navigate around the map.

In the top right corner of the map is a button that opens the local finder. The local finder provides users with extended listings of local businesses, which usually appears when clicking on the ‘More Places’ link at the bottom of Google’s local pack. This new functionality of the desktop local pack results is very similar to the current mobile and app experiences.


Impact for Businesses Local Strategy

Optimising your Google Business Profile is essential in many businesses local strategies, as it assists in ranking for more location-based searches. Optimising one’s keywords and rankings further helps to appear in more top three local pack results. But this new Google update sheds light and highlights the importance of reviews. As mentioned above, businesses that are not ranking in the top three positions of the local pack may still have a pin on the interactive map, which allows users to hover over their business and review their business rating and reviews. 

This outlines that reviews for a business may now be more important than ever, as customers can quickly see those reviews when searching and decide beforehand whether or not to click on your business listing. This could impact a businesses local strategy to start incorporating the tasks of ‘seeking’ more reviews to highlight the reputation of their business.


Why do we care?

If a business or their clients see a lot of traffic and business from the Google local results, it is essential to optimise their profiles consistently to provide searchers with the best possible information when they hover over it in the local search results, irrespective as to whether they are ranking in the top three positions or just outside, searchers will be able to view their business information. 

Additionally – reviews will be emphasised as a crucial part of a businesses local SEO strategy, as searchers will have easier access to viewing a businesses ratings and reviews, which can impact their choice of business when making a purchase decision. 

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