Before I start I want to make 1 thing clear… The Google Local Carousel is not in the UK…. yet.
It is, however, dominating the search results in America. And rest assured, if it’s in America, then the Google Local Carousel is headed across the pond too.
With the release of Penguin 2.0 last month, we saw Google’s algorithm favour 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 and in the States (so far), 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.
Here I am.
On the right hand side, users will see the company’s contact information, as well as the option to view their Google reviews (can anyone say IMPORTANT!). 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.
How To Get Your Business On The Google Local 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:
- Completely fill out your Google+ business profile.
- 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 here are the important points:
1. Embrace Google+
Whether you like it or not, this platform integrates directly with Google Places to be the driving force behind the Carousel. We now build Google+ into all our local SEO strategies. Not only should your business have a Google+ page, but it should be well-maintained with up-to-date content and you should be constantly working to grow your natural followers. Also make sure to upload high quality pictures as these will be used in your Carousel listing. With visual appeal and layout being paramount features of the Carousel, the more eye-catching your images, the better.
2. Verify and Optimise your Google Places Listing
The better optimised your listing is, the more likely it will be to be shown for given search terms on Google’s new Carousel. Make sure you submit to all appropriate categories, optimise your business description, and add photos.
3. Don’t neglect the importance of other online directories
One of the main factors that goes into where your business will be “ranked” in the Carousel, not unlike the old version of Google Places, are the reviews written on your business. However, the new Carousel seems to scour listings and reviews from other directories much more so than the old version of Places did. Sites like InsiderPages.com, Yelp.com, Patch.com and more – plus industry-specific sites like urbanspoon.com – are critical to your overall local optimisation and to your ranking on the Knowledge Graph Carousel. Also for restaurants, which is one of the first industries that Google has rolled this out to, it pulls a score for your restaurant in the listing based on your Zagat score.
4. “Traditional” SEO is still important
With the Carousel format “freeing up” a lot of the first page real estate that was formerly being dominated by Places listings, organic listings are once again taking center stage. A well optimised site and good ongoing SEO strategy will give your business more front-page exposure. Plus, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: the better your website is optimised, the better it will support optimisation of your Carousel listing, and vice-versa.
As I said, Google local carousel is not in the UK yet… But it will be, and the question is will YOU be ready?
If you’d like us to look after your Google + listing and SEO then get in touch here
P.S Want to see how we ranked a website in just 3 weeks? Then check out our SEO case study here