Mike Blumenthal has several excellent blog posts (starting last month) about new Google test SERPs that show a blend of local and non-local results, as well as relocate the map to the right rail. Many of you have already seen or read about this. Using one of Mike’s screenshots (second below) here is a comparison of the current and test SERPs:
With this test SERP Google is trying to deliver more content and information about the local results vs simply the links and phone numbers (as a prompt to click through) — still preserving the map as a “cue” that the results are local. Placing the map in the upper right, however, removes prime ad inventory from the page. From a pure UI point of view I don’t like the test SERP. It’s less visually “interesting” than current UI.
What Google should consider is getting rid of the map on the upper right and potentially miniaturizing it beside local organic results. Google has also been testing a pushpin icon beside links to denote a local result.