With the release of Penguin 2.0 last month, SEOs saw Google's algorithm favor local search. Soon after, Google introduced their carousel feature for local searches at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Though this feature just arrived on desktops, Google has been testing it on iPads and various tablets since December. When users search for restaurants, hotels and other local businesses, they can interact with this horizontal carousel of images that appears at the top of their search results screen.
This new "knowledge graph carousel" is replacing the 7-pack local listings that originally showed up in the organic search results.
With this new layout comes new ways to find what you are looking for in Google search. Zooming into the map below the carousel to a more specific location will adjust the options listed on the Carousel. Clicking on an image in the carousel will pull up all the listings on Google for that company's name.
On the right hand side, users will see the company's contact information, as well as the option to view their Google reviews. The number located at the bottom left of the image on the carousel is Google's score for the company, based on the reviews on their Google+ page. There are two types of scores: group and individual. Individual user ratings are on a scale of 0 (poor) to 3 (excellent). Group ratings are similar but on a larger scale; excellent being a score between 26 and 30.
Not all business types have a carousel. For example, if you type in rehab centers in Florida Google will display the normal SERP without a carousel. However, if the carousel feature is a success, businesses should prepare their online presence for the future update in their vertical.
Getting on the Carousel
Google draws the majority of information for local listings - and now the carousel - from a company's Google Plus local business listing. Here are three steps to get your profile in good shape:
Make sure all photos of your company on Google+ and anywhere else online are updated and web ready.
Ask loyal customers to write reviews on your Google+ page.
Google's focus on local search is opening doors for smaller local companies to show up in SERPs without having to design a website and labor over SEO. Google+ provides an easier way for these companies to share their information and images with the public.
Once your Google+ business profile is ready, get yourself listed in local directories such as Yelp, City Search, and Insider Pages. Businesses can either use their website URLs or Google+ pages as their link in the directory. Keep in mind your phone number and address should be consistent on every listing and social profile so you don't confuse the search engine.
Now's the time to get your company included in the local listings search results. Google has made it very easy for your company to be seen on the carousel by millions. Every second you wait could be a missed opportunity. So stop reading and ACT!