Over the weekend, when people in Europe conduct a local search, Google will now direct them to find results on relevant third-party websites. Third parties can include Yell, TripAdvisor, Thomson Local, and others.
There has been no official statement from Google regarding this change, but it’s believed to be a response to the €1.49 billion fine imposed by European courts for antitrust violations.
Google was fined for allegedly favoring its own services in search results. It appears Google is attempting to appease the courts by displaying prominent links to competitive services.
It’s not known how Google decides which third parties to showcase in these new search engine results pages. Presumably, they’re surfaced according to how relevant they are to the particular query.
The position of the box also varies from query to query. Sometimes it’s displayed immediately below the Google search bar, sometimes it’s below the paid listings, and sometimes it’s below the local map pack.
This feature just started showing up over the weekend, so I’m sure we’ll learn more about how it works as time goes on.