Over the years, Google has continually updated the layout of search results. On June 18th, Google announced they were rolling out an interactive carousel of local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop” that will be featured at the top of the page. Below is an example of the new Local Carousel:
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On the day of the announcement, Google+ Local community manager Jade Wang offered advice for businesses in a post on the Google and Your Business Forum:
How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?
While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.
Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?
We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.
I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!
We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.
My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?
The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.
While the answers to the questions listed above offer some great insight, you may still be asking yourself the following questions:
- What are the most important factors that stand out on Local Carousel?
- How will the carousel change user behavior?
- What does this mean for local businesses and how will this affect their local search strategy?
At The Search Engine Guys, these are all important questions we discuss when building our local search strategy. We have dedicated our time to studying the history of changes regarding local search and keep ourselves informed regarding the most recent updates.
Standing Out On Local Carousel
In comparison to the previous local results on Google, the new carousel displays results horizontally versus vertically. There must be at least 5 local results for the carousel to be displayed. If there are any fewer, it will show the original 1, 2, 3, or 4 pack display. It was noted by local search expert Mike Blumenthal that “the new Local Carousel will show up to 20 results if there are that many in any given market.” Depending on the size of your screen, the number of results that will display before using the scrolling feature will vary. Each business result will feature a photo, the business name, and rating and review information. The photo below shows how the Local Carousel aligns with the old 7-pack result set:
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The Carousel Effect: Higher Click-through Rates
I am interested in seeing if the clicks for local results will be more evenly distributed now that the results are showing horizontally versus vertically. In an article posted on Search Engine Land, they discuss a study conducted by search marketer Matthew Hunt who used heat maps to gauge interest levels for results. It was discovered that 48% of searchers click the carousel while only 14.5% of users clicked the map. I also look forward to seeing if the photo selected by the Google algorithm for local listings has an impact on click through rates.
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Round and Round We Go: Back to 5 Star Ratings
Now more than ever, it is important to place locally on Google. Because the carousel features an image for each business, it is important that all of the photos you have posted are high quality and representative of your business. Reviews will also become more important because of Google’s announcement discussing the return of the 5 star review system. Once a business has received 5 reviews, the stars will be highlighted in gold , which could be a determining factor for piquing user interest.
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The Future of Local Search
It is hard to be certain what changes or updates will be made in the future, but it’s important to always be prepared. Will Google slowly roll out the Local Carousel to other categories, such as attorneys? We aren’t quite sure, but we are adjusting our local search strategy in case it does. Will the local carousel extend to mobile search results, where the local results predominantly show before the organic results? If so, it will be crucial to gain local placement. Here at The Search Engine Guys, we begin researching updates as soon as they are announced and discuss what potential changes could happen in the future in order to be better prepared. We are anxiously waiting to see what Google will do next.
July 1st, 2013 – Posted by Shea Benedict to Google.