In June, Google rolled out a new way to display local search results for queries across a small sub-set of industry verticals. Called Google Local Carousel, this new search feature has shaken up the world of businesses mainly in the hospitality, tourism, and food and beverage industries. The traditional Map Pack that is typically returned for queries with a local search intent has been replaced with an image and review-heavy carousel of local search results. While Carousel isn’t yet live in the property management sectors in which G5 works, we have our eye on this development.
A few key takeaways on how Local Carousel is impacting local search:
- Pay attention to pictures and reviews Online reviews and attractive images are vital to this new style of search result display. Most of the listing is dominated by pictures uploaded by the company in question and the rating given to the business by Google users. Also, when a user clicks on a business in the Carousel, a new branded search is displayed which is heavily littered with review sites like Yelp. Businesses that have not yet paid much attention to their photographs and online reputation must begin to do so.
- Rankings are becoming more and more meaningless Local search is becoming increasingly more flat. In the case of Carousel, the largest percentage of users is surprisingly not clicking on the first result, as they would in a vertical list of A - G local results. Instead, preliminary studies on Carousel have shown that businesses in the 3rd and 8th position received the lion’s share of clicks.
Branded search is going to be bloated Understanding search behavior gets a whole lot trickier with Local Carousel. Marketers and owners of websites who monitor their search traffic will begin to see an increase in branded traffic if their business is in a vertical where Google displays Carousel. Here’s an example:
- Someone searches hotel San Diego, then clicks on W San Diego
- Instead of being directed to the hotel’s website, as it would have in a Map Pack listing, the result is a branded search result for W San Diego
- If the user then clicks on the hotel’s website from that SERP, that would be counted as a branded search in reporting platforms such as Google Analytics
The bottom line: Businesses would do well to examine their current strategy for online search marketing and consider how it may change if Google's Local Carousel reaches their industries. An online marketing consultant may be a good choice if concerns arise about what Carousel is or what it could mean for online marketing and analytics.
Brought to you by G5, the leading provider of Digital Experience Management® (DXM®) software and services in the property management sector.