Over the past 90 days, instances of the local pack have been severely reduced in local search results. What was assumed a bug has sparked a different theory given its persistent presence and lack of response from Google. A change that appears to lower the quality of search results may be a test by Google to understand the impact of potential regulations.
Various anti-trust laws and regulation have fallen on Meta, Apple, and Google over the years. One that Google believes may impact its product is an anti-self-referencing regulation proposed within the EU and elsewhere. What this law would mean is that directories would have the requirement to display sources of information outside of their own network. While this is meant to encourage competition and fairness for things such as news media, this has the knock-on effect that Google would need to avoid emphasizing its own Maps product above all other websites which list business information.
For business managers who have noticed their GBP Insights have been lower than average over the past three months, this test can provide a soft reason for this trend. While no single influence can explain everything about one’s marketing efforts, this is a factor worth noting and one which could retroactively explain a performance dip if Google reverses this test in later months.
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