New elements of Google local search results in Europe: A visual glossary

Google has created new search features for the 27-country European Economic Area. Here's what they look like.

New elements of Google local search results in Europe: A visual glossary

We wanted to understand Google's DMA compliance so we conducted a search-user study in Ireland. They began complying with the EU's Digital Markets Act (DMA) earlier this year. The six companies designated as "gatekeepers" under the DMA, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Meta, ByteDance (TikTok), Amazon, must be in compliance by March 6, 2024.

That includes not giving preferential treatment to their own products or services vs. third party competitors. Google has thus created a modified search results page and new search features for the 27-country European Economic Area across several verticals: Local, Travel, Products and Jobs.

To illustrate the changes, here's a side-by-side comparison for the same local query – "restaurants open now Dublin" – across the EU, UK, and the US.

Click to view a larger comparison of new EU Local SERPS with current UK & US Local SERPS.

Google defines the elements of the new search features and how to participate in a developer document: New Search experiences in EEA: Rich results, aggregator units, and refinement chips.

Visual examples of each of these modules follow below:

Places Sites Refinement Chip

The Places Sites Refinement Chip, part of the auto-generated tabs at the top of the search results, takes you to an organic page of local aggregator results when selected.

Places Sites Aggregator Unit

The Places sites aggregator unit is a carousel of local aggregator sites that is placed in local search results. When first rolled out it appeared above the Local Pack but its placement can vary based on use behavior and it now appears below the Pack.

Aggregator Carousel Rich Result

The Aggregator Carousel usually appears within the organic results below the Pack and highlights multiple places from one aggregator. It can, if a strong enough result, can appear higher in the results.

Business Profile Multi-directory Review Summary

The multi-directory review summary appears in the default view of the Business Profile when selected from the pack. When you select the Google review stars in a Profile result it will perform a "brand name + reviews" search that shows in the main search results.

Typical Search Result

Here is a screen shot that shows each of the above elements in context. One surprising element in these new results is a second Google Local Pack so high in the results.

The DMA is seeking to restrain the self-promotional impulses of gatekeepers and improve competition. In Google's case, the there are two questions:

  • Do any of the new search features actually impact user behavior? (The EU's compliance determination may hinge on whether they do.)
  • Is Google's effort in good faith or merely performative? Or perhaps are they even intentionally attempting to subvert the intent of the DMA?

To get some real data, we conducted a search-user study in Ireland, which is an English speaking country and part of the EU. What we found was eye-opening. Take a look at the analysis.