In April 2019, Google was testing a new local SERP which highlighted other directory sources for the same query. At the time, we saw an example in the wild for Germany . Now, an updated version of the SERP with branded directory buttons appears to be online in United Kingdom in Belgium, Spain, Greece and in France – if that is not already done in all of Europe.
A larger directory box. Below is an example of a screenshot of a search in the UK, showing directory links above the map and the local pack.
SERP showing results for "asbestos removal Halifax UK "
This change in SERP results from Google's continued effort to comply with the European Commission's antitrust decision in purchasing research material . It is also an attempt by the company to prevent separate antitrust action in local searches .
UK SERP showing a local carousel above the map
How are the directories selected? An obvious and immediate question is how the directories displayed are chosen? It is not an ad unit, unlike the solution implemented in the search for purchases . In the latter context, the price comparison engines and Google Shopping bid to be placed in the PLA. However, there is no comparable "sponsored" or "advert" label in the directory area or carousel above.
We must assume that Google algorithmically chooses the directories to display. In the UK example above, clicking on the links in the directory area takes users to a category page in the case of Yell but a company profile page in the case of Cylex. Other research (for example, "dentists, London") shows a carousel with several alternative directories. In some cases, the directories appear on the first page of the organic results, under the map. In other cases, this is not the case. Why we care. It remains to be seen whether this approach is acceptable to the European Commission. This will partly depend on whether the buttons generate significant traffic to these publishers. If this is the case, it could rekindle the fortunes of at least some of them (think of "beachside SEO"), who have continued to see traffic decrease as Google My Business and search without clicks attract more user attention and engagement.