Local search is one of the most important concepts a company can understand if they want to see online marketing results. Now, as of June 19 of this year, Google has taken local search one step further with the introduction of the Google Carousel. This new feature works exactly the way it sounds-a scroll you will see at the top of a Google SERP that features different local business listings. Although it is only available in the U.S. and in English right now, Google does plan to make this a big part of every search, in every country, in every language. Below is a screenshot of a Google SERP utilizing the new carousel design. This shows up when you type in the search query "Mexican restaurants in NYC":
If you type in a search query and don't see the carousel yet, that is because it is also only available in certain categories (restaurants, hotels, etc.). It's a new feature, so more categories will come as this feature expands. With this in mind comes the all-important question: How will the carousel help my local search efforts, and how do I get involved?
The Benefits of Google Carousel
Your company really has no choice whether or not it is a part of the new carousel design. If you want to be included in local search results (which you do!), then it's the carousel or nothing at all. However, Google isn't going to create something that will hurt businesses or hurt readers. The carousel is very beneficial for a few reasons:
- Above the Fold. By showing more businesses above the fold, readers can get a better picture of what is available, and more businesses can benefit from this increased visibility.
- Images Shown. With the old layout, you couldn't see any images next to the listings unless you scrolled over the result. Showing images help give businesses a real chance at luring in a potential customer. And after all, if you're a user, you always want to check out the pictures first, right?
- Interactive. Much like the old local SERP design, you can hover over the image/result to get more information about hours of operation, contact info, etc.
- Utilize the Map. You can zoom in on the map that will show up on the right side of your screen to limit results to a more specific area. This will change the carousel completely, but it will be more relevant/targeted than your basic search query offered.
LocalU.org measured clicks and surveyed users about where they click when they land on a local SERP that is using the carousel. According to the results, the carousel received 48 percent of clicks (most on the number one spot), which was more than the first organic spot.
Google Carousel Local SEO Effects
The new carousel design is just that-a new design. You don't need to do anything different to your business listings, just watch them appear differently in the SERP. If you were the number one spot before, chances are you'll be the number one spot again. There are, however, a few new ways you can optimize your listing now that you need to take the carousel into account as well as a few things to keep in mind:
First, make sure you have a lot of high quality photos on your business listing because Google is going to feature one of these photos on the carousel. Google is actually going to choose this photo for you, so all of your photos should be relevant and tell readers something about your business.
Second, make sure all of your business information is filled out, including your current location. Users now have the option of very easily finding specific results, so you want to make sure you have specific information ready to go so that Google chooses to put your business on that carousel.
Lastly, don't completely ignore your other local SEO efforts. The carousel is just a new layout and only one thing to consider. Your other strategies in place will still work great, just pay a little bit more attention to local now.