Google just released changes to the look and layout of the local pack listings. Based on search criteria, the local pack used to show 7 local businesses. Today those results have dwindled to 3 local businesses.
The new 3-pack design has a number of changes beyond the reduction in prominently displayed listings. The new design has been modified to make it easier to view on mobile devices. Links to Google+ pages and addresses have also been removed from the new 3-pack design.
Perhaps most importantly, phone numbers have been removed from the new display design. This is of particular concern to businesses. With the previous design, consumers could click on the phone number in the results and be automatically connected to the business of their choice. Now they must click on the entry before being able to connect via phone. Any time you add a layer to the conversion funnel, you risk losing leads. Whether consumers don’t click through to get the phone number or become distracted by other businesses listed in the results, the possibility for lost leads remains real.
According to Google, the new changes have been designed to provide a better search experience for users. Their goal was to provide more relevant information to consumers. Only time will tell if consumers and businesses alike find the changes to be positive and impactful.