A lot of you Google users out there might have already seen this, but it is fairly new to Google Searches. It’s the carousel. Most of the carousel searches are showing up for things like hotels, wedding venues, and this screenshot is of restaurants in Charlotte. Mainly the service industry.
First off I’d like to talk about the carousel from a non-SEO aspect; just as a normal Google user, like most of the rest of the world. As a Google user I have to say I love it. My only complaint is that I haven’t seen the carousel go beyond 2 slides or 20 total results. In the previous lay-out you would get the same results but they would vertical. Call me lazy, but this completely takes any scrolling out of the picture. What I really love about it is that you can click on one of the results in the carousel, and it brings up more information about the place you clicked. And although you clicked on something the carousel still remains intact, so it’s easier than ever to quickly browse another place.
I first noticed the carousel when I was searching for a wedding venue. As those of you who have planned a wedding, know that it can be stressful. When the carousel was brought up in the area I was looking into, it was easy to get a broad overview of the area. Since I first noticed it I have used it several times. The only recommendation I would make to Google is to expand it to a few different slides. I would love to see the carousel eventually show up to 10 pages or however many they need to show all the results.
Now let’s talk about the real reason we’re here, and that’s to discuss the…
Google Carousel from an SEO Aspect
First off, you’ll notice that there are two red circles on the carousel. I wanted to point these out because they are much more important than they used to be, and that is Reviews and Pictures. In this example most of the businesses have pictures and they are conveyed nicely in the listing. The one picture that is circled may have been pulled from Yelp or some other site like that. If you don’t have any pictures Google will find some somewhere, or they will show a map listing, and it doesn’t look pleasant. It’s a small space, and only one picture, but it’s important to shine in every little way possible.
Reviews are also more important now because they are right in front of the searcher, and a lot easier to find and read. I explained earlier what happens when you click on the reviews, but if you are a local business listed in the carousel you can expect a lot more internet searchers to start reading reviews. If you haven’t already, start soliciting reviews from clients. A bad review will happen from time to time, no matter how good you are, but if you have dozens of good reviews web surfers will overlook one or two not so good ones. There’s also a great blog post on here that can show you how to handle bad reviews.
I think the carousel is great for SEO purposes because it can help level the playing field. Before, if you were listed 10th in the maps you were buried below the fold, and may have even been on the second page. Now if you’re 10th you are right in front of their face, slightly to the right of the screen. You have a much better chance of being seen, even though you are still the tenth listing. It’s also easier to get exposure if you are anywhere from 11th-20th.
Right now the carousel is mostly used for the service and hospitality industry, but you can expect it to come soon for just about every type of business. Once you get ten reviews you will also get the Zagat rated system. Almost every carousel I have seen has listings of businesses with 10 or more ratings. In this example there was one business that had 9, and it was on the second page. For the hospitality industry especially, reviews are becoming increasingly important.
Google + Local and G+ for Business is constantly changing and businesses must adapt, or they may be left out in the cold. Google is rolling out a new dashboard, so expect to see that sometime in the near future as well. They are going to start with businesses that have a single location. The new dashboard won’t effect your rankings, or your ability to do proper local SEO. Take the time to upload some nice pictures, start getting reviews, and as always keep getting citations.