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Google’s New Local 4-Pack

By piranha

23rd January 2017

This week, Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post published an article discussing ads in Google’s local business listing results. SEOs in the US have been spotting another ad position between the Google Maps snippet and the current 3-pack listings.

We know that Google has been experimenting with the 3-pack for a while now, and it looks as though it may be expanding to a 4-pack system.

The current 3-pack displays local businesses beneath clearly defined ads followed by a cut out from Google Maps. For instance, a simple search for ‘watch repair Preston’ displays these results:

The 3-pack can clearly be seen here, and these positions have until now always been organic.

However, Sergey Alakov has spotted an ad position appearing between the map and 3-pack. Jennifer Slegg has previously noted experimentation with the existing format and there were considerable concerns that Google would force organic listings further down the page than they are already.

It’s easy to see why Google is being careful with this. For years now, many local businesses have carefully optimised their web pages to appear on the 3-pack for their geographic area. Therefore, for these businesses, it’s a considerable relief that Google is not making wholesale changes without examining their potential impact.

Let’s not forget that Google isn’t a charity, and it’s understandable that it would explore new avenues of generating revenue wherever possible. What’s reassuring here is that the new format Sergey Alakov spotted only introduces an ad above the 3-pack rather than replacing an organic position with a paid one.

This new format seems to only be appearing on mobile searches and in isolated incidents in the US. This just goes to show that Google is being very careful in altering their approach to local business listings. We’ve been unable to replicate its results here in Preston.

There has always been an art to optimising pages for Google listings, and as an agency we have many years of experience in doing so. Many local businesses can benefit from the exposure Google and other search engines offer, even if they do not directly sell their products or services online.

It remains to be seen if these changes are to be made wholesale, and if we’ll see them here in the UK any time soon. What hasn’t changed is that businesses need to work hard to appear anywhere near the top of today’s SERPs. Here’s where a knowledgeable digital marketing agency can make all the difference.

Whether it’s through organic or paid listings, Piranha has the experience and expertise to give your business the best chance to succeed online. We have worked with companies in many different industries, from engineering and retail to healthcare and many more.

Give us a call on 01772 888331 or email us at to find out how we can help you!

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