Last month, when Google announced its new interactive carousel, businesses were given a new opportunity to capitalize on local SEO. According to a recent study, the local carousel results receive 48 percent of clicks in a local search while the map only gets 14.5 percent. Plus, the carousel is posted above paid listings, giving more attention to organic search results. This means this new addition to the results pages is important for businesses to consider because those appearing in the carousel seem to be getting more attention.
From now on, when you search for a local business or event, you will see a carousel at the top of the page showing images, the business name, the average review and either the address, date, or type of food served and price point (if it is a restaurant search). After clicking on a carousel image, visitors are taken to a Google SERP of the business name associated with that image with more sources of information about it. This is obviously great for the user looking for something local, as it provides quick access to what they are looking for. For search marketers, it provides the opportunity to get their business front and center for their target audience.
So, how do you get listed in the carousel?
That, my friends, is another example of how search and social are becoming more and more integrated. Google pulls the information for the carousel from their Knowledge Graph (Google’s method for collecting information about search terms and making real world connections) and local listings and content from Google+.
What does that mean? Simply put, you better have your local pages on Google+ claimed and optimized. A complete and verified listing is the easiest way to show up in the carousel. Brands need to build out their local profiles in Google+ and drive their target consumers to their pages to increase engagement, reviews and ratings. This means you should be using tools like social media (as well as other techniques such as email marketing) to encourage current customers to visit your Google+ page and interact.
This carousel also emphasizes the importance of getting your business ranked high in results, as results get pushed down the page, and if you aren’t listed on the first page anymore, your traffic numbers may take a hit.
To get you started, here are a couple of things to keep in mind when creating or updating your Google+ pages for the carousel.
- The name shown on the carousel is taken from your Google+ local page, but only the first 27 characters of it. This means you should make sure your business can be expressed clearly in that limited character count and an important word isn’t going to be cut off in the middle.
- The first picture on your Google+ photos page should be the one you want to represent your brand. That is the image Google uses on the carousel unless it is not a high-quality image (in which case, they take the first one that is), and they only take a rectangular portion of 170 by 230 pixels from the top center.
- Positive reviews from real users are more important than ever because they are more at the forefront of a local listing. Ask your customers to share the love, but don’t offer incentives. That could get you penalized.
If you want to take it a step further, Gate6 can help you get the most out of your local SEO by:
- Developing a Local SEO strategy for stand-alone or multiple locations
- Claiming your Google+ and other local listing profiles
- Obtaining structured citations to build authority for your local listings
- Optimizing content to improve ranking in Google’s Blended Place search
- Designing a review acquisition strategy