In August, Google rolled out an update to how it displays local results by eliminating all 7-packs and moving exclusively to mobile-optimized 3-packs.
Shortly thereafter, it appeared that the 3-packs were now consistently ranked in the top spot (below ads, of course) for any Google search that produced local results. From there, all Local SEO blogger hell broke loose:
“Google shocked the world last week when they mixed up how local results are displayed in search results.“
“GOOGLE LOCAL PACK PLACEMENT CHANGE CAUSES STEEP DECLINE IN ORGANIC BRAND CTR“
To be sure, the change appeared to be dramatic. But now that we are a month in, it appears the drama may have been more in our minds than in our traffic.
While it seemed that this update rolled out in August, in fact it has been rolling out since last summer’s Pigeon update.
A Timeline Of Events
July 2014: Pigeon Update Rolls Out
The local algorithm appears to increase emphasis on user location, knowledge graph results