Google Carousel for Local Search: How to Get Your SMB Prepared

by 5 11/07/2013

You may have noticed over the past few months that Google has changed the way it displays local results for some of the more major categories.

This new feature is called a Google Local Carousel and it works just as one would assume—a carousel at the top of your screen full of different results.

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No, not that kind of carousel. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you all about it.

A quick look at the carousel

In case you haven’t seen a carousel in action, here’s what it looks like:

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This is a screenshot of what you see when you type in the query “Chicago pizza places.” As you can see, it’s a great addition to local search, and well worth optimizing for.

So the next thought for businesses is easy: Learn how the carousel works and get your business on it. Ready?

How it works

The carousel won’t be featured on all local queries just yet, but as time continues and Google receives feedback, more and more SERPs will begin to use a carousel if appropriate. For now, restaurants and hotels are amongst the categories showing up most often on a carousel.

As you can see, there is still a map available on the SERP along with your typical organic results.

The only difference now is that the local results are displayed horizontally instead of the usual vertical display. Notice that currently you can see nine results above the fold. The past model you would have had to scroll down to see any more than two or three.

There are also different filters you can now use on the carousel, and these filters will change based on your query. In the screenshot above you can filter by either “price” or “user rating,” which you can see again below:

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Something that isn’t talked about quite as often is that the carousel can show up for searches that are not location based, especially for popular subjects that warrant a list or have different options.

For example, if you type in “best comedy films,” you will get a carousel results. As you can see below, you have the option of sorting by “genre” or by “year.”

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The benefits of the Google carousel for local search

The carousel was most likely created as a way to engage more users and businesses in local results. There are several benefits to the carousel design:

  • More images lead to more engagement by users. Users want to see photos before they make a purchasing decision, and the new layout gives every business that change (unlike the old layout where a user had to scroll over the listing to see a photo).
  • More listings above the fold help users and businesses get a greater chance of connecting. Optimization is still important, but you have a better change of being seen with the new design.
  • An interactive map is now a bigger part of the SERP. All a user has to do is scroll over the map and choose a more specific area, which will then change the results seen in the carousel. It’s more targeted, which is great for all parties.
  • Hover over the carousel to see more detailed information, such as contact information and hours. Again, this limits users from having to click and wait for a page to load to make a decision.

How do you put carousel to work for your business?

You don’t have a choice regarding whether or not you want to be a part of the carousel. This is the new design and any business with a business page fitting Google’s criteria will make it onto the carousel.

Keep in mind, this isn’t a bad thing. The carousel is incredibly beneficial for small businesses. According to a LocalU.org study, the local carousel won 48 percent of clicks, which is more than the first organic search spot.

In other words, this is a huge opportunity for businesses to really connect with their local community.

User Benefits: The carousel helps users compare different businesses much easier than before. In the past users were forced to hover over each listing; therefore only being able to look at one at a time. The carousel avoids all that.

How to take advantage of Google carousel for your small business

To make sure you’re optmized for carousel, you need to do just two things:

First (and this is the biggest thing you can do), make sure you have quality photos on your pages.

Google is going to choose a photo from your page to be the head photo. So your job is simple: make sure all your photos make your business look great.

Second, keep your pages updated. Google does the rest.

See what I mean? This is one of those features that’s easy to leverage for your business. All you have to do is stay on top of your website (which you ought to do anyway), and you automatically have an increased chance of showing up at the top of the SERPs. It’s an easy win.

Now you…

What do you think about the new carousel feature? Are you planning to optimize your listing for the new layout (or have you already)? Let us know your story and your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: theatreinthepark.net

About 

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from algorithm updates. She writes for the HigherVisibility.com, a nationally recognized as one of the best search engine optimization firms.

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5 COMMENTS

Dennis Brown

Really helpful post, thanks Amanda.

I’ve not noticed this carousel in results in the UK yet; do you know if it’s being implemented outside the US yet?

July 4, 2014 Reply


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