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Google Places One-Box Layout Changes

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For two weeks now I have been hearing signals about Google changing their branded one-box layout yet again. First, on October 10th Barry Schwartz posted an article featuring a screenshot he found on Google+. The search that triggered this new layout was “Orlando International Airport”.

Google Places Branded One-Box Change

A few days later James Norquay posted a very similar image of the one-box for the query “highland property cronulla” (search on google.com.au). The next alert came from Phil Rozek in this article. Both James and Phil included additional screenshots of changed local results layout for more generic terms.

The screenshots of branded one-box search results in the posts above show that up to 5 business photos are now featured under the map, together with up to five descriptive terms. The latter change is something that I have speculated would happen for quite some time now.

Unfortunately, I was unable to reproduce these results myself. Nevertheless, Google seem to be rolling the changes out for more and more search queries internationally, and even if this turns out to be a test it is leaning towards becoming the “new normal”.

These changes are interesting particularly because in this layout the branded one-box attracts even greater attention and all other results are practically “buried beneath”. The only ones that survive are the top ads showing up over the organic results. Google seem to keep up with their strategy to completely crush the competition in terms of local search traffic.

  1. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek10-24-2011

    Hey Nyagoslav,

    Great post. Thanks for the mention. Have you determined *that* Google is, in fact, rolling out the new layout anywhere? As far as I can tell, the test I witnessed only lasted a few hours. I agree that this seems like the kind of change Google will roll out eventually. But, on the other hand, it could be another one of those fleeting “shooting star” tests by Google, like the 3-pack test that I wrote about way back in June.

    Ever since a few hours after I posted that, I just haven’t seen any instances of the new layout; just curious what you’ve noticed in the past week or so.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov10-24-2011

      Phil-san, ogenki desu ka? (I worked in Japan some time ago) :)

      What I can say is the following – Google are testing this worldwide and for many search terms. I am not sure if the new layout is going to look exactly like this but everything is in favor of such a theory. There are two major trends here:

      1) Google trying to totally demolish their competition in local search (paid or organic) for some time now
      2) Google testing more and more their “descriptive terms” – first they were showing up only in Maps searches, followed shortly by Places searches, then on the Place pages themselves, and now the logical conclusion of the process is for them to show up in the organic search results.

      So there are two strong points deriving from these trends – Google will be trying to make their Places results as attractive as possible, but at the same time preserving the importance of the paid results; and Google trying to be more comprehensive in their local search results.

  2. Phil Rozek
    Phil Rozek10-24-2011

    Hai, genki desu. Demo, isogashisugite imasu! Nyagoslav-san wa? (Daigaku ni Nihongo to Nihon bungaku o senmon shimashita.)

    Regarding the trends you pointed out, I completely agree. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the number of organic results that occasionally show up *above* the 7 pack decreases over time. It would be logical, what with Google’s steady steps toward an above-the-fold monopoly.

    I’d be very interested in seeing some international results with the new layout; since the test, I certainly haven’t been able to find any here in the US with the new layout.

    • Nyagoslav Zhekov
      Nyagoslav Zhekov10-25-2011

      @Phil – (let’s stick to the English) :) I know that, I think you mentioned in a couple of your posts ;)

      Actually the screenshot of James Norquay that I mentioned in the article is showing the search results for an Australian local search. My next post will be on some layout changes too, I predict ;)

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