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Big Changes in SERPS, Fewer Places 7-packs are Triggered

 9:00 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Up until a day or two ago, many queries we track that would normally spawn the Google Places 7-pack, have changed. Logged in or logged out of Google services, the local Google Places 7-pack is harder to make come up.

cityname pizza - cityname plumber - cityname locksmith - cityname product, etc.

It seems like Google has turned back a few dials on the queries, to lessen the chance Google Places would automatically spawn.

I think it deserves its own thread. Anyone else seeing it in their area? I like these results from an organic view, but have to wonder if this is just smoke in preparation for the hearings tomorrow, and will just revert back after they are gone.

Seeing a much high frequency of Yelp, Insiderpages, Yellowpages, Dexknows (... is yellowpages), etc

Any other observations on this?



 10:12 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just tried cityname plumber - I get the 7 pack in the UK. It would be helpful if members post their country please.


 10:20 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

johnhh, G is under pressure regarding this in USA, and tomorrow there's a hearing in the US Senate. A cynic might link the two.

I can confirm that I got an increase of a local directory type site I have. A very nice increase and I assume that traffic went to G Local before.


 10:34 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Would this be a US only thing? I don't see it in Canada - logged in or out...


 10:46 pm on Sep 20, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just tried cityname plumber - I get the 7 pack in the UK. It would be helpful if members post their country please.

Same in Australia for same phrase


 12:24 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

USA here. I'm really having to try to get the Google Places 7-pack to show, where a week ago, it was hard search locally without getting the 7-pack.



 2:09 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Wow what?

This, and Gooble has an anti-trust hearing tomorrow?

Very interesting. And even more interesting if someone points this out tomorrow.


 8:01 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

A few days ago I posted (removed because off-topic / too specific) that places had gone for some queries on one of my UK sites.

If I typed in London Widgets, previously place names could potentially generate 20 entries. From a few days ago, none are generated.

This was important for my site because there was actual an "thing" called London Widget. What Google was previously doing was providing results for Widgets in London - definitely not the same thing.


 8:09 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm in the UK and I'm currently seeing the traditional 7-packs with smaller text.


 8:21 am on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

city name Pizza doesn't give me the 7 pack. But it does give me Yelp at the top then seven big SERP size listings of local pizza places, places quite near me. Pretty useful.

A good list although they rank Dominos (which is crappy but possibly useful to those who dig dominos) but don't rank one of the better pizza places which also happens to be walking distance to me, which is called Arizmendi Bakery but is in fact known for their pizza not for their bread. Google might want to dial down the ome page title tag influence on the (non 7-pack) places related listings.


 1:49 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

@martinibuster Still these local listings seem to be a huge improvement.

When I searched yesterday "city name locksmith" I still got the places 7 pack but not today. The smaller cities in my area don't show any places just map pins and/or websites. For the map pins the listed site is the actual website not the place page as I've seen with previous map pins.

For the nearest large city I get:
3 AdWords ads
1 Places 3 pack
10 organic listings

I also noticed there is no Google plus button next to the listings when I'm not signed in. I believe that until today there used to be a plus button next to the serp even if you weren't signed in. Clicking on it asked you to sign up for Google plus in order to plus that serp.


 1:50 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

US and still seeing the 7 pack for the main term I follow...tried a number of 'search location' and still no luck :(:(


 2:21 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm currently seeing the traditional 7-packs with smaller text
I see the same today, in the UK, - but only for capitalcity locksmith , if I search capitalcity plumber it's the bigger font.

Someone at Google just change locksmith - for presenting at a certain hearing, or something ?


 2:39 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's almost certainly connected to Google anti-competitive hearings.
Recently, Google has inexplicably softened its stance. What changed? Well, the FTC announced an anti-trust investigation, the state attorneys general took notice, and this committee proposed this hearing. Was this an admission of anti-competitive conduct?

^^ Yelp testimony in Washington DC

That is a paradox. Google chose the 7-pack since it was best for the users after testing it, no doubt. They said so, and even made a video about it. Now are users going to suffer by being sent to second-rate sites like Yelp, Citysearch etc instead of Google Local?

Yelp also said that Google executives decided what goes on top, not algorithms.


 2:49 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

It would be so ridiculously disgusting and unconscionable if they changed the SERPs just for the hearing today and then changed it back after. Can you imagine someone with that size and power playing games like that? It's like the friggen CIA coming with black helicopters. No one saw or heard anything the 7 pack is gone and it never happened. Now you see it now you don't.

I checked some other major cities around the country and I still see the Places 7 pack showing . I can't imagine them doing anything without testing it first so it could be split testing.

Besides, at Google even if there was an order to shred documents I still see the engineers doing a split test first to see which way of shredding was more efficient.


 3:17 pm on Sep 21, 2011 (gmt 0)

Maybe it was done for the hearing, but I doubt it. Too obvious, even for G.


 3:39 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I am seeing some search results minus the 7pack, where I previously would expect to find it.

I have an alternate theory -- there have been rumors regarding Google Maps/Local releasing "something big" around October 1st -- this could possibly be some sort of advanced preparation for that.


 3:55 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

there have been rumors

Do you have any links on it? Where are the rumors stirring?

Thanks for the insight on the 7-pack also... still the same here as well. Many results that previously spawned the 7-pack are lacking it today.



 4:45 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

Too funny. This new Larry Page google has the subtleness and class of a charging rhino.

Given their connections I think we all know nothing substantial will ever come from this anti-trust charade.

It looks like it may have some good short term effects though while they sit up straight, smile, and pretend to be everyone's friend.

This is one change that we are not likely to see extended to other countries. I just ran a query in another country and not only is the seven pack alive and well, they now have an additional adwords two pack lower down on the page. The number of different organic domains listed on page one is a whopping 5!

It's not a search engine, it's a paid directory.


 7:50 pm on Sep 22, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've been seeing almost the opposite for a couple weeks.

I've been seeing CORE local KWs that have always pulled the new blended, merged style layout/aglo reverting back to 7 packs. And many of those 7 packs don't seem to be following the standard Places algo at all.

But I have not done lots of checking past couple days. Too busy.

Will try to check some of the standard markets I use to test and reverse engineer the local algo and will let you know if I see any major changes.

Linda Buquet


 2:33 pm on Sep 23, 2011 (gmt 0)

netmeg wrote:
Maybe it was done for the hearing, but I doubt it. Too obvious, even for G.

I wouldn't be surprised if these changes are a reaction to the hearings, but not in an "Oh @#%&! Hide the evidence!" kind of way.

That kind of reaction would indicate that Google is actually afraid of the hearings, but with the amount of exposure these aspects of Google's service get, a temporary change just for the hearings would be absolute suicide. (And for those who believe that Google is not afraid, then why make any changes at all in response to these hearings?)

Giving Google the benefit of the doubt, these changes, if they are actually a response to the hearings and not something they are testing regardless, would be more like saying, "Look. We don't think we're doing anything wrong, but the government is taking the accusations seriously enough to hold hearings. We'll take a couple steps back in the interest of appeasement."



 12:53 pm on Sep 24, 2011 (gmt 0)

Maybe it was done for the hearing, but I doubt it. Too obvious, even for G.
Surely any evidence would be based on historical events on not the recency of events. The fact that it continues to exist in other jurisdictions is in itself evidence. Why give the impression that you knew what you were doing was illegal. I think it is business as usual for the G God.
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