Surprise, surprise. It’s the constant conflict of SEO: Google’s improvements make a digital marketer’s job difficult, yet everyone else’s lives supposedly so much easier. It’s the dynamic nature of the business that keeps things exciting though, right?

What is the Google Local Search Carousel?

Let’s walk through it. I search for the simple word “bars” and here is what I see on my laptop:

Google Local Search - Bars

The carousel is that lovely grey bar directing me to the most delectable watering holes my college town has to offer. It’s the new way Google delivers local business listings.

Things Businesses and Marketers Should Notice:

  • My query and the results: It was simply “bars.” Not “bars in Athens oh” or “best bars in Athens.” I was signed in to Google Plus, and the listings of bars with Google Plus profiles appear with a neat little picture, rating and description.

Takeaway: Yet another reason for your business to have a high-quality Google+ profile set up. Encourage patrons to rate you on it as well.

  • What happens after a click: Branded search results from a bar I click on are listed, and a preview appears in the Graph Search sidebar.

Jackie O's Google Search

Takeaway: Branded search traffic to your website will increase, and unbranded search will decrease. The quality of the local business listings in this step will depend on having an optimized site and a very detailed Google+ page set up.

  1. Rating quantity and quality showed the highest correlation with rankings (76%).
  2. Next came the distance from your base location; all results were within a small radius from wherever Google (mysteriously) marks your location’s center.
  3. Third was the existence of modifying language. If you included words like “cheapest” or “closest,” the correlations changed accordingly.
  • What industries does this affect? Right now, the local search carousel seems to be largely service-related businesses such as salons, hotels and restaurants. Look for e-commerce and retail to be next on the list. Clothing results may not be far away.

Have you encountered the Google Local Search Carousel?

Have any rants or raves you’d like to share? We’re wondering if this is making Yelp-ers toss and turn at night. One reviewer was upset to find local coffee houses taking over his results when he simply searched “coffee.”

Let’s hear your take below.