Internet Marketing Part II: Google’s Local Search Carousel
Local search has undergone a major organ transplant. Any company with a physical location must completely reassess its e marketing strategies. Apparently, the Google brain trust got bored again and went back to the drawing board.
The loudest buzz in local search is the new Google Carousel, the most recent phase of the Google Maps-Places evolution. While the roll-out occurred on June 25, the fallout awaits. Carousel has significantly modified the way Google presents its local results, specifically for restaurants, lodging facilities, and watering holes for now. Expect to see other local industry listings follow shortly.
The term Carousel would seem to suggest some circular element, but the actual presentation is a linear scroll-bar commonly seen on other Internet media sites. The Carousel’s positioning at the very top of the search engine results page includes a thumbnail photo, rating, and the number of reviews for each of 20 results.
How the Carousel Works
Depending on the size of your monitor and settings, Carousel displays about eight to 12 thumbnail results. A scroll button is available on the right to see the others. Hover over any image to stimulate the map pin for geographical orientation.
- It is too early to gauge the results, but already we can draw some interesting conclusions:
- Early tests confirm that the likelihood for a random Carousel click is higher than it was when there was top-to-bottom orientation below the map.
- The image displayed is critical.
- The number of reviews and ratings matter even more now.
- There are benefits to local companies and to Google as well, of course.
Especially note that initial testing has demonstrated that the photo displayed has a significant effect on clicks. This is not surprising and is exactly what Google had expected. Google’s algorithm is set to make photo choice, but it seems to be oriented towards an image of the building, which is fine for a hotel. Most restaurateurs would much rather have an image of their food products appear. The solution is to get rid of any building photos on your Google+ business page and provide nothing but enticing food shots.
Also note that clicking on one of the results takes you to another Google search page, not the website page for the business. However, the company site will be at the top, immediately after the AdWords PPC results, of course. Therefore, if you are running PPC, you get great double exposure on that page.
So, how does your business get to take a ride on the Carousel? Proper optimization for search engine marketing is key. You must be on Google Places and have a map pin to gain a position on the Carousel. How does this change affect PPC listings? They are likely to get less attention, until someone clicks on a Carousel result. Google is certainly expecting that outcome, which enhances AdWords results.
It’s Easy to Ride
Many companies are naturally wondering what they must do to get a spot on the Carousel. Here are our suggestions:
- Contact us to confirm your strategy for e marketing includes a Google+ page and that it’s properly optimized.
- Coordinate your PPC campaign with YouTube – remember, Google owns it.
- Keep updating your website and add nothing but original, quality content.
- If you are unsure about how to minimize the damage from bad reviews, get help. They matter more than ever, now.
The dynamic is shifting once again. Only six months ago, a solid SEO practice was to find ways to add links. While backlinks are still important, they should be the results of your efforts, not the actual effort itself. The Carousel is a great way to increase exposure, add links naturally, and move your business forward.