What Google Local Results Might Look Like Without Self-Preferencing

August 19, 2022
What Google Local Results Might Look Like Without Self-Preferencing

The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) is looking to prohibit major tech platforms from what is believed to “amount to unfairly ranking their services above those of rivals” (a.k.a. “self-preferencing”). Essentially the complaint is describing Google’s local 3-Pack as a system that circumvents traditional search ranking and uses SERP space to promote local solutions to a person’s search query where a more global competitor might otherwise appear.

Google’s Response and Plan of Action

Google has since stated that the AICOA would make it more difficult for customers to find local businesses, because those listings will fall way down the pecking order of the Google Search and may disappear entirely depending on the competition.

Behind closed doors, google is testing a solution to this potential issue. The leaked test is replacing the Local 3-Pack with what are known as “Local Cards”. The cards take up very limited space. They are essentially a small map, business name, and address. When a card has been clicked the user is taken directly to the merchants’ Google Business Profile, rather than their website. 

Any organic listing can consist of images, sitelinks, and the Local Card. Also of note, multi-location businesses get a carousel of Local Cards, one for each address that matches the search query. 

Why We Care

Google is not going to stop using its Local Knowledge Graph to enhance local results on the search results page, but Google Business Profile is responsible for roughly 70%-80% of local conversions. A large part of that is thanks to the visibility of the Local 3-Pack. 

If the proposed AICOA bill becomes law, and if the Local Cards are the solution Google implements to replace the current system, it could have damaging effects on local businesses. Obviously, the cards are a lot less visible, and therefore less likely to convert. The result would mean a greater emphasis on organic rank given the loss of a proximity boost.  

Whether or not this comes to fruition, it’s important for us to remember that the digital ad space is one of a fluid nature, and we should always be prepared for change.