Update: This is not new, it actually happened over a year ago and truth is, I covered it then. I am getting old and slipped up on this one, I am sorry.
Yesterday, when I was playing around researching my Google Inside Street View experience, I searched for [web development] in Google and noticed the local pack came up with the Google Map. I was shocked. In November 2009, over six years ago, Google dropped SEOs, web designers, web developers, etc from the local pack.
“Today, we’re intentionally showing less local results for web design / SEO queries. For example, [web design sacramento] doesn’t display local listings today. We believe this is an accurate representation of user intent. In some cases, we do show local listings, however (as NSNA/php-er noted) [web design in bellingham]. I’m sure some of you feel we should be displaying local results for queries like [Web Design Vancouver]. I understand that concern, but based on our understanding of our users, we feel this is the right decision for now.
“I’ll give the usual disclaimer that we’re constantly working on improving the user experience and results will vary over time. So, this could change in the future, but I wanted to be explicit about what we’re doing today.”
But if you search today for [web development] even without a local qualifier, like [web development san francisco] or [web design] without a local qualifier, you will get a local pack in Google. If you search for [SEO] you won't but if you add a local qualifier, you will, such as [seo west nyack].
Here are pictures:
I am not sure if it is a bug showing these now, if Google changed their minds or something else. I will reach out to Google to find out.
Forum discussion at Google+.
Update: Okay, I was a year or so late in noticing this. Mike Blumenthal spotted it in 2014 as coming back. I actually read Mike's story back then, I must be getting old. :)