Please welcome this guest post from Kendall Eitreim, a Gemini summer intern. 

Google is a beast that in many ways cannot be tamed.  Constantly undergoing algorithm updates and tweaks, Google seeks to fulfill its mission to “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Google places high priority on tailoring search results to best suit each customer.  Thus without further adieu, introducing Google Carousel.  Looking for a café that boasts the highest quality espresso, the best 5-star hotel or most popular nightclub and you are likely to stumble upon Google Carousel.

Google Carousel

Launched in June 2013, Google Carousel features an entirely different layout for search results.  More interactive and visually appealing for the searcher, local search has been tweaked yet again.  You will now see a horizontal row of up to 20 images displayed across the top of the page running above both organic and paid search results.  Generally speaking, the carousel pops up when searching travel, hospitality and restaurant queries in addition to sports, entertainment and education. The list of queries that produce search results in Carousel is currently growing and expanding and thus far includes:

  • Restaurants
  • Movie Theaters
  • Stadiums
  • Colleges
  • Hotels
  • Art Galleries
  • Clubs
  • Events
  • Bars
  • Things to do in (city)

Exposure For Local Businesses

Staying true to their mission to make information accessible and useful, Google is actively working to help local businesses receive more exposure.  Thus, small businesses are the ones who reap the benefits of Google Carousel.  Because of the immense benefit that this feature offers, Google Carousel left the SEO community scrambling to determine the nuances as to how this feature functions and deems sites “worthy” to hold one of the coveted spots on the carousel. In the wake of the seemingly arbitrary measurements, the ensuing questions that local search marketers aimed to answer ranged from what exactly triggers the carousel to show up and what is the method Google utilizes to “grade” a site in addition to how does one rank well and gain the highly sought after real-estate within the carousel?   To date, more light has been shed on the grading features of the Carousel system.

According to Search Engine Journal  “social behavior could be one of the most important direct ranking factors for the Local Carousel.” As it is commonly understood within the SEO industry, it is vital to be active: update your website, run SEO verifying that keywords are dispersed throughout the website and respond to reviews (both positive and negative) in a timely fashion. Providing relevant and current information will not only help you build your brand and relationships with your network but will also increase your ranking in the eyes of Google.

Visually Appealing

In addition, the carousel is image-based. This allows the searcher to get a glimpse into your business. However, consider yourself warned: Google has been known to choose pictures at random. This means the picture selection is out of your choice and can potentially be hazardous. As a result, be proactive. Make sure images are high resolution, unique, and order them in terms of your priority.

Google Carousel is slowly but surely revolutionizing the way local search is done. With the introduction of this feature, you can now get a more complete and interactive picture of what you are looking for. While some kinks are most certainly being ironed out, for a small business this feature holds huge potential and can be one of your greatest online marketing tools. So, take initiative of this feature and increase your exposure.

Knowledge Graph

Another addition to the Google search results page is the knowledge graph. Google hopes to move from an information engine to a knowledge engine by making results more real and connected. It will show enhanced results on the side of the page for topics such as actors, cities, music groups, sports teams, planets, and the list goes on and on. Check out this interactive experience about Google’s knowledge graph and watch the video below from Google.

Have you interacted with Google carousel or knowledge graph? If so, what did you think?  What did you find most helpful or most frustrating about it?  Please share you thoughts and comments below.