For two weeks now I have been hearing signals about Google changing their branded one-box layout yet again. First, on October 10th Barry Schwartz posted an article featuring a screenshot he found on Google+. The search that triggered this new layout was “Orlando International Airport”.
A few days later James Norquay posted a very similar image of the one-box for the query “highland property cronulla” (search on google.com.au). The next alert came from Phil Rozek in this article. Both James and Phil included additional screenshots of changed local results layout for more generic terms.
The screenshots of branded one-box search results in the posts above show that up to 5 business photos are now featured under the map, together with up to five descriptive terms. The latter change is something that I have speculated would happen for quite some time now.
Unfortunately, I was unable to reproduce these results myself. Nevertheless, Google seem to be rolling the changes out for more and more search queries internationally, and even if this turns out to be a test it is leaning towards becoming the “new normal”.
These changes are interesting particularly because in this layout the branded one-box attracts even greater attention and all other results are practically “buried beneath”. The only ones that survive are the top ads showing up over the organic results. Google seem to keep up with their strategy to completely crush the competition in terms of local search traffic.