In early august (7th to be precise) Google updated the way they displayed local listings on their first page which I posted on here. This update had a significant impact on business with a strong local presence. While some businesses saw an increase in business after the update, many experienced a decrease and many concerns were expressed. A nice post by Andrew Shotland on Search Engine Land sums up a lot of concerns about the update and places the update into perspective. The recent changes on local listings is also upsetting the balance in SERPs and one needs to track their Google My Business and Google Places/Maps URLs to have better visibility over this channel.
Yesterday (24th September), it looks like Google re-introduced phone numbers back into the local 3-pack that is displayed on page 1 of Google allowing visitors to directly call without having to click-through to maps in order to view the phone number. This is a very positive change from Google for many small businesses I am sure.
obviously there must have been many complaints and concerns expressed by business to Google and Google reacted swiftly to reverse some of the changes they made in early August to their local pack.
Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post also demonstrates that the change is likely applied globally.
Here is what the new 3-pack looks like with phone numbers now present. I see them from France on all local search phrases.
Mike Blumenthal who is the expert on local also made a small commentary yesterday on the topic.
UPDATE (Sunday 27th September): Google seems to have removed phone numbers from the local 3-pack after putting them back in 3 days ago. Read here the update by Mike Blumenthal.
I can confirm from France they are missing in Chrome:
Update 29/09/2015 (Tuesday): Well Google seems to have placed phone numbers back into the local 3-pack once more….what are they doing? – Personally I think this is about Google being recognised as a channel for small business. If customers see the number and call directly to a small business, Google may not be recognised as a digital channel as there may not be a digital trace. By getting the user to click for a phone number or to click to call (on a mobile device for example), the action will be registered and Google will get the credit. This will help in getting small business and local business to recognise Google as an important source for customer acquisition.
Some more discussion unfolding here: http://blumenthals.com/blog/2015/09/28/phone-numbers-back-in-the-pack-googles-goofing-on-us/