It looks like Google is testing a new local ads format in the search results and it could be a game changer.   What Google is testing is captured below with a screenshot:

New Local Google Ads Test

You can see they added 3 local paid ad listings above the fold with a map.  This new local sponsored ads Google is testing doesn’t even look like a sponsored ads.  It’s very sneaky and blends in very well with the organic search results.

This is what the search results look like now (without the new local ad test):

current example local search result

We believe this change is pretty drastic change if it gets released, so we decided to run a click test on the two search results.  Below is the click test for the new ad format.

click test on local search results

You can see that with the new local search results, Google has the local ads at the top of the page and this seems to be receiving the majority of the clicks based on our click test.  If this change comes into play, local ads will become super important to any query that serves up these kinds of ads.   As we’ve said over and over, it’s a “pay to play” environment with Google.

Here are the click results from the current search result:

click test on local search results in google

Notice with the current search results page we see more clicks on the organic (free) parts of the page.  Now if I was Google and wanted to increase revenues through our paid advertising platform, which search results page would I serve up….?

You bet, it’d be the new one!

My guess is this new search result test will soon become the new norm.   Get ready to pay for your visibility in local search.

I want to give a shout out to Joy Hawkins and Tim Capper for pointing out this test to us.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below on this local Google Ad test.

Tagged with: Local SEO

About Matthew Hunt

Matthew is the VP of Marketing & Sales and a Partner at Powered by Search. Matthew often is interviewed regularly on the subjects of: SEO, Paid Search Marketing, Social Media Marketing, & Conversion Rate Optimization.