In what may be an attempt to improve SERP performance on phones with weaker hardware or poor connectivity, Google has begun to test a new, low-feature version of the local box on mobile devices.
The local box, as it is termed by local search marketers, is a box that contains information about top-ranked businesses in local Google search results. On desktop searches, it appears on the right-hand side. On mobile searches, it appears above the rest of the search results.
Usually, the local box is composed of three bands. The upper band includes an image of the business (usually taken from the business’s Google My Business page) and a Google Maps snapshot showing the business’s location. The second band, which is blue, includes the business’s name, the business’s category, the business’s rating on Google Reviews, and a star icon that allows users to save the business as a favorite. Finally, the lower band includes icons to call the business, search for directions through Google Maps, or visit the business’s website, as well as info about the business’s address and hours.
In the new test, the box has been redesigned, with a stripped-down, less aesthetically-driven look. The upper band is gone completely, with no image of the business and no Google Maps snapshot. Meanwhile, the middle and bottom bands remain. All of the business information is still there, but in a denser, less-colorful format with fewer icons. The only other feature missing is the star that allows users to save businesses.
Why is Google testing this new, stripped-down local box? Local search marketers believe it is a way to improve load speed. Some are suggesting that Google is detecting the connection quality of each user’s device and then using the new, low-feature box on devices with slow load times. This way, users who might otherwise grow frustrated and give up before their search properly loads will be able to see their search results faster.
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