Google has a feature to discover more places for some local intent queries. According to RankRanger, the feature exploded in terms of how often it is shown, starting on October 24th. In the US, it increased by almost 130%, from about 3.5% of queries to about 7.9% of queries showing the feature.
RankRanger tracks these features with their tool and this is what it looks like when you plot it:
Here are the changes by region:
US: 7.4% (128% increase)
UK: 4.5% (388% increase)
Canada: 2% (150% increase)
Australia: 2.5% (400% increase)
You can trigger an example of this feature by searching for [sushi nyc] and you will get this at the bottom:
Mordy Oberstein from RankRanger told me “What’s interesting is that the data here does not coincide with an increase in Local Packs. So it seems some preexisting Local Packs are bringing up the feature.”
Forum discussion at Twitter.