What is Google Carousel and How Does It Affect SEO?

August 1, 2013 Amanda DiSilvestro

Google has yet again released a new way to improve search, and once again it means more website analysis for marketers and Webmasters. The new feature, Google Local Carousel Results, deals with local search results and is currently only available to U.S. users in English. In a nutshell, the carousel is just that—a scroll at the top of your search results, resembling a carousel, which highlights different local businesses. The next thought on the minds of all businesses, then, is simple: I need to learn how to get my business on that carousel. ASAP.

How Google Carousel Works for Local Search

Chances are you haven’t seen carousel results just yet, but once they become available you’ll likely see the value immediately. At the moment, the carousel is only available in certain categories such as restaurants and hotels. Of course, this will change as the new feature continues to expand. Below is a screenshot from Search Engine Watch that illustrates what the new local results might look like in the coming months:

The idea behind the carousel was to make it easier for users to see a larger number of listings at once, which also works well for businesses. A few other benefits of the style change include:

  • More businesses are shown above the fold.
  • The carousel shows images for each result, which wasn’t shown on the previous design.
  • The carousel is interactive, so you can hover over a listing to learn more.
  • You can zoom in on the map to limit your results to places in a more specific area.

According to a Search Engine Land article, LocalU.org completed a study that measured clicks and surveyed users about where they click on a local page. Both found that the number one spot on the carousel received a large amount of clicks (the local carousel won 48 percent of clicks). In other words, the first spot on the carousel received more attention than the first organic spot. Of course this will change as the carousel becomes more popular and is rolled out onto more pages, but if the trends continues, we could see the carousel becoming an important consideration for businesses working to improve local SEO and search.

What Google Carousel Means for Your Company and Your SEO

When it comes to getting your business involved in the carousel, you don’t really need to do anything special. If you have a solid Google business listing through Google Places, you have a good chance of making an appearance in the carousel. It’s exactly the same as the old local listings, just a different format.

One thing that is odd, however, is the picture feature. It’s incredibly important to have a lot of high quality photos on your local listing because one of these photos is going to be displayed on the carousel. What’s tricky is that Google will choose the photo for you, so you don’t have a lot of control. Just make sure your photos are all high quality and relevant, and your listing should look great.

Finally, you can’t forget that organic search results are still important. This likely won’t change for quite some time, so don’t stop any of your other SEO efforts. You must continue to maintain your current strategies while simply paying a little bit more attention to local.

Are you familiar with the Google carousel? What are your thoughts? Do you see this as a positive change or negative? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

About the Author

Amanda DiSilvestro gives small businesses and entrepreneurs SEO advice raging from keyword research to local SEO strategy. She is the online content editor and lead writer for Higher Visibility, a nationally recognized SEO company that offers a wide range of SEO services to companies across the country.

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