It appears that Google is currently in the works of testing a new layout where Google My Business listings appear at the top left of the search results, instead of in the traditional top right hand side location.
The following screenshot was taken yesterday when searching in the Chrome browser on desktop for the brand name of our client PP Wholesale.
It’s apparent that Google is currently testing this layout, as a follow up search showed the following traditional location of the Google My Business page.
This experiment comes after Google ceased displaying AdWords text ads on the right-hand side of desktop search results earlier this year. This change in the Google Adwords layout saw the complete removal of all right side advertising aside from Product Listing Ad boxes and ads in the knowledge panel.
The change was intended to create a more consistent experience across desktop and mobile, however it also had the effect of increasing competition and driving up minimum AdWords CPCs, and pushing organic results further below the fold due to the inclusion of up to 4 AdWords ads at the top of the search results.
The ramifications of no right-side ad serving and fewer ads appearing on a SERP led to some backlash from the SEO community, where many feared that the increased dominance of AdWords in the SERPS would negatively impact click through-rates for the organic search results.
Paid Search marketers were more divided in their opinions. Some recognised the benefits of all text ads now being able to include call-out extensions, location extensions, sitelink extensions, etc., whilst others had concerns about the potential rise in AdWords pricing given less supply per page.
Hence, it’s evidentiary that whenever Google makes amendments to its interface, it can be viewed with trepidation due to the potentially significant impacts.
Moving the Google My Business listings from the right side to top left would follow in the wake of the AdWords changes by adopting the mobile-first design approach.
Furthermore, similar to AdWords text ads, with the increased prominence of the Google My Business page we see standard organic search results pushed down to accommodate for the business listing information. Having the business listing displayed straight under the search bar gives the Google My Business information a far more ‘native’ appearance and is likely to achieve greater click-through rates to the Google My Business page. Organic results, which often include the business’s own website, third party reviews and social media pages, are pushed below the fold.
Importantly, the decreased prominence of the business’s own website may lead to more advertisers deciding to advertise on their brand name keywords in AdWords.
Further, it will also undoubtedly lead to business owners placing more emphasis on the importance of Google My Business reviews.
For now, however, it appears Google is in its early stages of testing this new layout. If Google does decide to roll this change out permanently, then the implications for both AdWords and SEO will be significant.