Natural Search Blog

New Layout for Google Local Search Onebox Results

Chris Sherman earlier reported that Google was to begin displaying their OneBox content for news anywhere within the search results page, not just at the top of the organic results as they have been for some time. I’ve just in the last few days run across instances where the OneBox for local keyword searches has been appearing lower down in the page. Check it out:

Google trying new local search layout
(click to enlarge)

This was a search for “San Antonio Sea World”. Read on for another example and comments.

A number of folx have been mentioning various alternate layouts of late, as Google has apparently been testing a number of page content arrangement options. (See here, here, here, and here.)

I’m supposing this new layout where Local OneBox can drop down into the the lower positions on the page is another test. Note that the search term used to invoke this layout involve a two-word city name and a two-word business name. It’s likely that these sorts of multi-term searches are harder for Google to be certain as to the user’s intention, so it may be that they consider the OneBox as having a potentially lower ranking value in these cases.

The domain at the top of the SERP has a PR of 6. The next link, to, also has a PR of 6.

In another search where I was able to invoke this layout, for “San Antonio Casa”, the top site had a PR of only 3, while the next had PR=3, and the third above it had PR=3:

New Layout of Local Search
(click to enlarge)

So, there must be some other relevancy signal(s) at work which help to define when other sites’ content may outrank the local OneBox.

Strangely, I get a completely different layout/result when I search from the box in my Google Toolbar, versus directly from Google’s homepage. Also, different layouts from various of my Google accounts, since I use Google’s webmaster tools, calendar, etc, from different usernames.

In a previous, iterative integration of local content into the web search results, Google had begun introducing a map link under some local listings. I think that integration was better, since it was less obtrusive. The local OneBox seems way too large now that it’s dropped down into the results page – perhaps didn’t seem to be as bad at the top of the page since it grouped Google-centric content up at the top, associated with the header.

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