Local carousel search replaced the local search results pack with a horizontal, image based results pack at the top of the results page. For example, a search for “Hotels in New York” results in the carousel results to display up to 20 hotels in New York.
For now, carousel results appear primarily in search results for education, hospitality, travel, sports, and restaurants. A click on any of the images included in the carousel results in another search engine results page for a branded term search of the business you just clicked on. For example, a search for “hotels near Times Square” results in the carousel seen in the image above. A click on the Hotel Edison image returns a SERP for the branded search of “Hotel Edison New York, NY”
The carousel local results unit was rolled out in June 2013 and has been a successful addition to the suite of Google search products.
How Can You Get Your Business Included in the Carousel?
The essence of Google site ranking is how you optimize your location and is the key factor you can control for your business to be included in the local carousel results. As an example:
- Indian Restaurant near Times Square New York (no carousel)
- Indian Restaurants close to The Empire State Building (returns a carousel)
Optimizing your business for local searches requires you to think about how people search for your business and your kind of business. The carousel can be beneficial as the placement and layout of the carousel unit is more visible. But new research shows it as competitive placement, as the carousel includes up to 20 listings vs the map & 7-pack listing for local searches. If your business benefits from geographically based search optimization efforts, then optimizing your site to be included in local carousel results can help your visibility. Once included in the carousel, there is a lot of competition for the searchers click. Here are 3 steps to boost your chances of winning the click:
1) Focus your optimization efforts on specific search terms that are being served the local carousel and make sure your images are compelling, high-resolution and show off your business.
2) Create, optimize and use your Google Places and Google+ Local accounts for your business. The images on your Google business listing is thought to be one of the many resources Google and pull the carousel image from.
3) Encourage customers to review your business on Google. Recent research by the team at Research Marketing Works shows a very strong correlation between the number of reviews, average review rating and carousel rank.
Where is the Google Carousel Headed?
While the use of the carousel unit is still fairly limited to a few dozen categories and query types, we should assume that Google will continue to roll this unit out to all categories. Supportive of boosting the visibility and readability of local products and businesses on the search results page, the carousel is a great place to set your optimization sights on.