After seeing it briefly rendered on the big screen at Google I/O on Wednesday I’ve finally gotten an opportunity to play around with Android-Jelly Bean (on a Galaxy Nexus handset). As has already been fairly widely discussed, the new OS substitutes rich info “cards” in many situations where in the past it would have given you a search result with links.
I wrote about how this might shake up mobile SEO and local-mobile search generally earlier this week (however as with Google+ Local the changes might turn out to be mainly cosmetic). Now for your enjoyment, here is an example of the new experience, featuring the info “cards”:
This was a restaurant search for “best middle eastern food, san francisco.” An ordered list (with “grades”) appears first. Click on any one of the links and you go to a map. That in turn yields the profile page and ability to call, get directions and so on. The profile pages also contain user reviews (beyond Zagat) if you scroll.
As you can see above, the map has an ad at the top, while the initial search results page (left) does not — currently. It also takes three clicks to get to the local phone number. Before phone numbers were displayed right in top-level search results.
What about Click to Call ads or mobile AdWords in general? We’ll have to see but I’m sure that Google will integrate paid results into this new SERP “card.” The traditional mobile SERP is still available, somewhat hidden at the bottom of the page. If you scroll up and swipe away the card, the “old” results are revealed, minus the local data.
Below on the left is an example of the new experience. The right screen capture shows the same query on Google on the iPhone.
The only data showing on Page 1 are direct local business listings information. Furthermore, this new local search experience appears to cut across categories: painting, plumbing, taxis, salons, hardware stores and so on. Every local category I tried and could think of produced these kinds of results.
Google is trying to optimize search results for the mobile user experience and we may see several iterations of these pages. As I indicated I’m sure we’ll see one that has paid listings at some point in the next few months.
What we’re also likely to see is a search experience on Jelly Bean Android devices that is substantially different than on Chrome for the iPhone or Safari. However I would imagine that over time Google can be expected to align its SERPs across devices, channels and platforms. The Google mobile app for the iPhone is a bit of a wild card.
Assuming it “holds,” Jelly Bean implements a major change to the presentation of local search results on Android devices — for both consumers and merchants.