Within the past couple of months, I have been beginning to see a change in Google’s local 3-pack map listings. The change doesn’t officially seem to be here for good, but I do see the results every so often. Which makes me think Google is testing the market. I mostly see the results for the hospitality and restaurant industry. Let’s take a closer look at the changes below and what it could possibly mean moving forward for local search results.
In this example, I was searching for a hotel in downtown Charleston, South Carolina.
As you can see from the picture above, the local 3-pack looks much different. Here are the two main changes that we can see:
- There are 4 businesses listed on the left-hand side, not 3.
- There are categories above the hotels listed. Here you can scroll through and determine how you want to see the hotels. These options are: Top Choices, Guest Favorites (rated 4.0+), Budget Options, Luxury Stays and For Tonight (which you can’t see from the photo, but there is an arrow to the right – see below.)
What does this mean for business websites? Well, the good thing is that there is a better chance that you can rank in the map listings with 4 options now instead of the original 3. This can help get your site more exposure, which can result in more traffic. However, there is also a downside. Google is focusing on user experience now more than ever. Which means Google wants to make sure your site will be helpful to the user and provide them with what they want. With more categories such as the ones listed above, you’ll have to make sure your site fits in these categories or you may not show up at all.
Now, I’m not Google and can’t officially say how they determine who fits into what category such as Budget and Luxury, but my guess is that your listing price for an open room decides which category your site will fit into. Is your hotel $150 a night or less? Or is it $300? I think schema markup could also decide this category option if you have it set up correctly in your code. The Guest Favorites option relates back to the average Google reviews your business has, which could also relate back to Top Choices. Top Choices could also be determined by which sites are clicked on the most. Again, these are all my predictions, but they do seem to relate to the categories Google has listed above and how it could be displayed.
As I already mentioned, I don’t see the above new local results show up every day. I mostly see it occur for the hospitality industry, so that could be the market Google is focusing on now. These results could potentially also disappear, and we never see it again. Or, it could be a change that could stay for good. My advice moving forward would be to make sure you properly have filled out all the sections in your Google My Business account, as well as make sure your schema code is up to date and filled out with the proper price range. I personally like this local 3-pack change, because it allows more exposure for websites. It will be interesting to see if it stays for good and gets carried over to other search categories as well.