Google Experiments With New Local and Mobile Friendly Features for SERPs

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

Google-Search-ResultsGoogle is always testing new features to help people find content online and to help content and business owners put their best foot forward. Recently two new tests have been spotted where Google is trying out new things on their search result pages to help mobile and local marketers improve their presence in search.

The mobile test involves adding clickable phone numbers to search results. This may sound like old hat, since Google has been adding clickable phone number to ads on search results pages. However, this is the first time that Google is testing displaying clickable phone numbers in the organic search results on mobile.

In describing the significance of the new test, Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land wrote, “Google has allowed searchers to click on phone numbers to dial the business from the ad side and the local listings side, but we’ve never seen it on the organic side.”

It’s too soon to know if Google will officially launch this feature, but it would make search results more mobile friendly. For local businesses that want to get people to call them, this small change could make it easier to convert searchers into customers. Speaking of local business owners, this takes us to the other test recently seen on Google.

Another potential change would take a cue from the candidate cards that Google introduced presidential candidates in 2015. The experiments with a new card carousel have been seen on some Google search results pages to test that features. The cards with content from local businesses are shown near the top of search results.

There are a few things that make these local cards different from other local marketing features Google has tried in the past. For example, this experiment is based on data gleaned from Google My Business. Google has actually partnered with a few dozens specific businesses to create custom cards to test the feature.

Search Engine Land also pointed out that the local card experiment is noteworthy for the fact that it represents the first time that Google has introduced or allowed animation/GIFs on the search results page. While this may seem like a minor thing, GIFs create new ways to use imagery to attract the attention of searchers.

It is believed that the intent of these local content cards, if released, is to allow local business owners to communicate something directly in search results. This can be special content or information that highlighting the business’ products or services in ways.

While this may seem similar to the generic Knowledge Panel, the experimental local card feature has some things that Knowlege Panel doesn’t quite allow. And as a bonus for the ever growing social media market, content on the card directly shareable from within the carousel.

Google is always testing new features. And many times, the features we see in tests don’t get released or are implemented in slightly different ways. Business owners and marketers should pay attention to see if these features become available and to make sure their sites are primed to take advantage of the potential feature.

For more news about changes to Google, read this article on new design choices for Google Ads.

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