Google has been at work tweaking and improving its search carousel recently. These updates are now increasingly something that local businesses need to be aware of (especially if you're in the hospitality or restaurant business) and give even more reason for businesses to claim their Google Local page.
When someone searches “sioux falls restaurants”, for example, the carousel displays several thumbnails of local restaurants. These images stand out to searchers and gather most of the clicks when shown.
A recent test study was done showing that, when the carousel was present in search results, 48% of searchers clicked on it over any other search result. Main takeaway: the carousel is important.
So how do you optimize your business for this new search listing? Simply focus on utilizing the Google Local images and reviews that the search carousel displays so prominently.
The carousel images provide a perfect reason to claim your Google Local page, as the carousel pulls in the Google Local profile picture. Having an enticing image is crucial as this is often an internet user's first impression of your business.
Those who do not claim their Google Local page are at the mercy of Google's automated choice—usually a default Google map image.
One of fastest growing aspects of Google Local that you'll need to address is the importance of customer reviews through Google. If you look at the carousel, you will notice that there are two review numbers showcased on some businesses.
One is for the total number of customer reviews and the second is an overall quality score. The more positive reviews a business receives, the higher the quality score.
Although the algorithm isn’t completely known, it's pretty clear that these two different numbers help businesses to be ranked more favorably within the carousel.
Over the years, businesses have been given occasional reviews on Google, but the search carousel changes the game entirely. Now, getting reviews will need to be a much bigger priority if businesses want to stand out in local search.
The need for businesses to claim and optimize their Google Local page and actively seek to gather positive customer reviews on Google will only increase as Google continues to utilize the search carousel for even more types of businesses and locations.