Joy Hawkins yesterday reported that Google’s local 3-pack (aka ‘snak-pack’) will soon include an Advert in it.

Thus the 3-pack becomes the 2-pack…

Thug Life

 

Hat-tip to Colan Nielsen for using the 2pac quip first!

Joy from Imprezzio Marketing was attending SMX Advanced in Seattle when Google made the announcement in their presentation.

She was even fast-witted to photograph the 2 pack and share it with her contacts.

 

The photo is a bit grainy so here’s a mockup created from that photo, to show what we think it may look like.

Google 2-pack
Note the Ad label on the top listing

Paid-for Inclusion Squeezes Good Businesses

So it’s here – paid-for inclusion in local results. Now any business – the good, the bad & the ugly – can get a highly prominent placement in local results by paying for it – rather than by genuinely being the best business for local consumers to use!

This will undoubtedly make life harder for local SEOs & business owners.

The 3-pack hard was challenging enough to get included in, but that job has now get tougher with 33% of the local pack space being sold to the highest bidder.

If you consider the amount of spam in certain categories then genuine, quality, play-by-the-rules business owners are being squeezed out!

The upshot for Google is clear = more revenue to satisfy bottom-line growth.

The downside is also pretty clear –

  • Worse experience for users
  • Good businesses being penalized
  • Lower-quality results as more businesses/SEOs employ grey-tactics to get a foot-up on rivals

Local Extensions for Adwords

The local pack Ad inclusion is not yet rolled out and hasn’t been spotted in the wild – yet!

According to Joy these ads will be part of Adwords Extensions which will be available to local business advertisers who have their GMB listing connected to their Adwords Accounts. Presumably they’ll also be available via Adwords Express which might finally make Adwords Express a viable, high performing channel for local businesses.