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You’ve probably heard that Google has redesigned its search engine results pages (SERPs). The new look now includes something many have termed “Google Carousel”: a horizontal scrolling selection of search results, complete with photo thumbnails, placed prominently on top of traditional results and designed to draw users’ attention the moment a given SERP appears.

You’ll see it when you use Google Search on your desktop browser and your iPad. Here’s a screenshot, in case you’re not sure what we’re talking about:

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Designed primarily to display more interactive results for local business searches – say, “Italian restaurants in New York” or “sushi bars in Chicago” – Google Carousel represents more than a simple change in aesthetics. It’s a potentially very significant game-changer for every business owner looking to enhance visibility on the Web.

Own a business? Here’s what you should know about Carousel:

It highlights businesses in a wide range of industries and sectors. The new SERP layout appears every time a Google user searches for a restaurant, bar, nightlife spot, hotel, museum, theater, or art gallery – in other words, local businesses in a wide range of industries and sectors. Doesn’t fit your category? No worries. Carousel is a pretty new feature, so you can probably expect even more business verticals – say, healthcare services and contractors – to be included by Google in Carousel results moving forward.

Carousel results integrate your business Google+ Local listing. Have you claimed your business listing on Google’s own reviews aggregator and recommendation service, Google+ Local? If so, be prepared to see search engine results display this listing – regardless of whether users are performing localized searches (“sushi bars in Chicago”) or non-localized searches (“sushi bars in Chicago”). We therefore recommend keeping your Google+ Local listing up to date, with accurate data, map location, and contact information.

(Check out: “Are Your Online Business Listings Complete and Correct? The Cost of Wrong Local Data”)

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Your Carousel result includes a photo thumbnail. Did your listing show up as a Carousel result? If so, you’ll notice that a single image has been attached to it. That’s why you have to make sure that your Google+ Local page contains relevant business photos: the more compelling the image of your Carousel result is, the more visually appealing it will be to your audience. Remember: business owners on Google+ Local always have the option of uploading their own images, so make sure you upload professional, high-quality images that will stand out effectively among other competing search results.

Results include additional info, like online reviews and Zagat ratings. Carousel enables Google’s search experience to be much more interactive. So – apart from photos – results also display other useful information about your business, such as your total number of online reviews (on Google+ Local), your location on Google Maps, your Zagat rating (if you have one), and other essentials like website link, business address, telephone number, menu, and even review summaries.

Check out a couple of screenshots below:

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All this appears when users click on your Carousel result, which Google likens to a sort of “expandable card” that helps users learn more about a business in a specific geographic area. Here’s a pro tip: to gain greater visibility, actively track your online reviews and respond to what your customers have to say. This establishes more authority that can benefit both your Google+ Local listing and Carousel result – allowing you to gain competitive advantage in various local searches.

Monitor and manage online reviews, track your Google+ Local page, and analyze data across other online review sites and local search platforms. Sign up today for a free trial of ReviewTrackers.


(Image credit: Google)

Chris Campbell

Chris is the CEO of ReviewTrackers. He has helped tens of thousands of businesses hear, manage, and respond to what their customers are saying online.