Google Rolls Out Local Carousel Display in US for Dining, Nightlife, Hotels, and Other Attractions

As suspected Google has announced the roll out the Carousel Display for local results “for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop”. Here is Jade’s post in the Forums:

Today, we’re announcing an interactive “carousel” of results on Google search for local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions on desktop. This launch is English and US-only for now. The carousel has appeared since December in tablet searches in the US, and the desktop local search experience is now consistent.

To give it a try,  search for something like “mexican restaurant.” Users can click on a specific place to view more details and scroll through more results by clicking on the arrows on the side.

How can I get my business to show up in the carousel?

While we can’t guarantee inclusion in search results, we can say that the carousel will show results from listings in Google Maps using categories. Just as in regular ranking, Google’s algorithms take into account many factors to select the places and results that are most relevant to the user. This algorithm based approach is also used to decide which businesses are in the carousel.

Why is this feature only available for some business verticals?

We’re committed to providing users a high quality search experience for every query. The carousel filtering experience is a good fit for some categories of local businesses. We will continue to experiment with different designs and interfaces to make sure that users get the information they’re looking for, fast.

I’d like to see this feature in more languages and countries, please!

We’ll work as fast as we can to roll out new features in as many places as possible, but have nothing to announce at this time.

My business is on the carousel, but I’d like to change the photo. How can I do that?

The Google business listing is one of several sources we use for the photos in the carousel, and making sure high-quality images are posted to it will help improve your photo. However the image selection, like the actual ranking of businesses, is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image.

Some notes:

1- The carousel will display as many restaurants as there is room on your display. On my iMac with a 1920 x 1200 displays 15 listings left to right. On my 1280 x 960 display it shows 9.5 listings.
2-It still retains the Zagat rating number
3-None of the displayed results from the carousel have an organic listing until the image is clicked
4-When you cursor over the image a pin is raised on the map
5-When you click on any given image you remain on the main search page for a branded search for that listing and the number 1 listing switches to the brand’s web and a knowledge panel is displayed to the right
6-Given the ease at which a branded search is executed (by a click), even though the company web site shows first, this will be a huge win for Yelp and others doing good seo in the entertainment and restaurant industries
7- In the hotel searches only advertisers and Google’s hotel finder are visible above the fold even on larger displays.
8-The displayed listing is a blended listing and shows site links and title tags when available.
9- I can currently see the display in Firefox but NOT Chrome (how weird is that)

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Google Rolls Out Local Carousel Display in US for Dining, Nightlife, Hotels, and Other Attractions by

30 thoughts on “Google Rolls Out Local Carousel Display in US for Dining, Nightlife, Hotels, and Other Attractions”

  1. Hate it. Two main gripes: (1) there’s no contact info or website URL unless you click, but then you have to scroll down to see the info, and (2) the fact that you can’t control which photo shows up.

    A smaller gripe is that the “At a glance” snippets are too prominent, and Google still hasn’t really figured those out yet.

    I just hope the carousel remains confined to food and tourism searches.

    The more I think about the carousel, the more I think it’s an effort to squeeze Yelp until Jeremy Stoppelman’s eyeballs pop out.

  2. The potentially scary part is Jade’s update that says “image selection… is primarily decided by algorithms and so we can’t guarantee complete control over the image”

    I can see this being a HUGE headache for businesses that have a crappy photo displaying instead of what they want…

    Also wondering how they choose which local queries receive the carousel layout… why would searches for “bowling alley” get it when searches for “used cars” or “clothing stores” don’t? Aren’t they just as local in the intent?

  3. I like it!

    I think this helps mitigate the whole local ranking conversation with difficult clients.

  4. @Greg
    For whatever reason it is for entertainment and accomadation related listings only. Google said that is would show on “local dining, nightlife, hotels, and other attractions”.

    There could be several reasons for this; they are more visual in appeal, they were not ranking well in the blended results or this gives more space to sell ads….

    Photo choice will be huge and could be a pain.

  5. @Alex
    It certainly changes the dynamic of the page… and flattens the results in such a way that any listing within the carousel should do well…

  6. Thanks for breaking the news, Mike. I am currently seeing it for Chrome.

    The map for Local results that appear in the carousel not having lettered markers brings us that much closer to the launch of the new Maps interface – yay!

  7. @Kerry
    These results are much less “personalized” than the new Maps results but in the sense that they offer “rankless rank” and easier way for users to find more it is similar to Maps, that is true. The metaphor really does minimize the importance of an A listing.

  8. Mike someone posted a screenshot in my announcement at the forum that shows a carousel for “Guitar Lessons in Laguna Niguel”. Hard to figure, given Google’s intended target results for this type of display, but Greg shared a couple that were a little outside the food and lodging categories too.

    Also hard to figure, but like you I can’t see the carousel in Chrome, only in Firefox.

  9. @Phil said: “The more I think about the carousel, the more I think it’s an effort to squeeze Yelp until Jeremy Stoppelman’s eyeballs pop out.”

    But one of the big benefits to Yelp and everyone else is all those organic listings move up higher on the page.

    I just showed a comparison shot and organics are MUCH higher than they are when buried below a 7 pack.

  10. @Linda – Yep, there are definitely several terms showing the carousel that are outside of food and lodging…

    @mike – So what happens to venues that now show up in the carousel that are tracking branded vs. non-branded keyword traffic??? With the carousel click changing the SERP to a branded search, won’t all click-throughs now appear to be branded searches?

  11. @Linda

    Good point. I guess the question becomes: do people actually use the carousel, or does Yelp all of a sudden start getting more click-share (at which point I’m guessing the carousel might mysteriously start showing less)? It’ll be interesting to see.

  12. @mike – also, referring to #3 up above – we’ve seen several instances where a venue can have both a carousel spot AND an organic listing on page one…

  13. @mike – I like that it flattens out the ranking issue a bit, and that it provides more room for the blended and organic listings :-)
    @ Greg Gifford – I suspect that might be the case if the site has a well optimized deep page. e.g. domainname.com/mexican-food, where the root is being pulled in by the Local algo

  14. @Greg & Linda

    I see a search like “Guitar Lessons in Laguna Niguel” as well within the idea of entertainment which when I looked at Greg’s earlier post was in line with this. IE Bowling, dancing, etc. For example “Shuffleboard Seattle” returns the carousel. So I don’t see it as just hotels and restaurants but it is not plumbers either.

    @Phil/Linda
    The amount of organic displayed is very dependent on the search. For example with Hotels and Google’s Hotel finder there is virtually NO organic result displayed even on very large screens. But in restaurants and entertainment there are more organic opportunities.

    @All
    I did a “newbie user” click test with my wife and said: Search for a restaurant in Buffalo and do what you would do. She immediately scrolled the carousel to the right, scrolled back, hovered over B and the clicked on D because “the image was the most attractive”.

    @Greg & Andy
    Yes I too saw a few local pages mixed into the results and as Andy says, they are well optimized long tail pages or a different page than the one used in the Places dashboard.

    @Greg
    Accounting for these behaviors in analytics is going to be very hard.

  15. Mike, you said…

    “5-When you click on any given image you remain on the main search page for a branded search for that listing and the number 1 listing switches to the brand’s web and a knowledge panel is displayed to the right”

    For what I see, the number 1 listing is not always the brand’s website. I see Ads related to the image/company, when I click many of the carousel images.

    Does anyone else see “Ads related to” when you click the images?

    Showing ads will be disastrous for companies not bidding on their own name, or who have competitors bidding on their name.

  16. @mike Initial tests are showing that a click on the carousel, then a click on the venue’s site results in (not provided) – even when logged out…

  17. @Michelle
    Ads are most definitely display above the organic search results. I was referring to the organic results. This change certainly puts more pressure on any given company to take out an ad for their branded search terms to prevent competitors from taking that prominent spot.

  18. On board with Phil’s first comment on this post – how bizarre is it that in this new layout, Google has kicked the AP out of NAP? Figuring out red dots on the small map below the carousel takes more effort than seeing, up front, that a business is at 123 Center Street. And I guess users will now have to click *something* in order to get to a phone number. No more reading them right off the pack listings or meta descriptions on organic listings.

    Mike, I will be eagerly following any follow-up you write on this topic in the coming days.

  19. Mike:

    Thanks for the article and comments. Interesting new development.

    On an SEO and business perspective I haven’t worked restaurants for high rankings but I’ve been interacting with restaurants a lot recently in my home territory in DC.

    The restaurateurs w/ whom I’ve spoken have noted some changes over time chiefly being:

    Customers and traffic are coming from a wide variety of sources these days including apps.

    (In that regard, DC is probably one of the top 3 markets for percentage penetration of the entire market by OpenTable, (an app that makes reservations and has a ton of reviews).

    Restaurateurs are recognizing and commentating that their traffic are coming from many sources, and are acknowledging that they don’t feel as dependent and subject to the controls Yelp had on them.

    Much of the above is a result of roughly equal numbers of reviews in Google and opentable as opposed to yelp in the recent past.

    Of the web traffic I’ve gotten hold of for some restaurants….its fairly spread around from sources and keyword traffic.

    On some other notes:

    So google has had experience with this presentation via tablets. That is interesting. I don’t see tons of tablet traffic though it is growing. But clearly google in the aggregate saw a huge volume of traffic since the test started.

    On that note…and seeing as how the above the fold results seem to emphasize the carousel…and THEN ADS…and then yelp and some others….

    boy oh boy would I like to be a fly in google’s analysis on clicks on ads for the carousel searches since its been a test.

    Over time we’ve all seen google cleverly generate greater volumes on adwords clicks. I can’t help but think this has a lot to do with this presentation.

    As I look at the Carousel not only are there questions about pictures that Jade responded to…but I saw maps in lieu of pictures.

    If I had a restaurant showing a map in lieu of a picture….I’d ultimately claim that listing and get some danged pictures in there!!!!

    (I’d want your wife’s business…since she liked the pretty pictures.).

    So many changes in how google presents data over the years.

    and with all those changes the one thing I’ve seen is that google’s adwords revenues keep increasing, quarter after quarter.

    google managing to increase adwords revenues is like death and taxes. Its a certainty!!! :D

  20. They demo’d this at Google I/O and thought it was already. Confirmed that with Maps team that it’s pulled from the Maps ranking algo (not Places). BTW- It looks like they got Chrome activated just a few hours ago today.

    Interesting to see the kwd/categories that trigger Carousel: Pizza & Instrument Store…. among others.

    Off to building yet another concurrent version of the parser script…

  21. I checked some variations on hotel searches.

    For hotels/city the carousel would show and beneath that ADS every time. All above the fold…and then sometimes google’s access to hotel sites.

    Lotsa ads above the fold. ADs ADs, ADs.

    Then this was interesting. I searched on brands.

    For some cities/Holiday Inn there would be a carousel with several holiday inns.

    But for Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt…even when there were multiple brand name hotels in a city….no carousel.

    I think google wants more advertising $$$ from holiday inn!!!! :D

  22. While I like the sleek horizontal scrolling, the carousel currently shows 20 results. That’s nice for 20 local results to show on page 1, but where are the other results? What of that poor hotel which ranks #21? How would I know where to search for more than 20?

    As it is, the sponsored hotel finder is one option, and lots of folks won’t even know that this is pay-to-play. The other keen option is just to go to Trip Advisor.

    When I click on the image in the Carousel I want to go to that hotel to check it out for prices/location/info. I don’t want to just go to a Google Search Result page. That is effectively a waste-of-a-click and simply STUPID. I’d expect that to change by approximately September 20th or so.

  23. Dave #21 has great insight IMO.

    Google knows that

    “Customers and traffic are coming from a wide variety of sources these days including apps”

    1 click produces a wide variety of sources
    yes Michele #16 I do see one ad related to

    Users can avoid scrolling altogether if they want Google reviews, Company website, NAP info, or Google + page. A little scrolling delivers everything you could possibly want to make an informed decision.

    What’s not to like?

  24. I’m surprised Google would place something with such vibrant color above their ads section. I think this is going to destroy the CTR for all the PPC ads.

  25. @mike . As I mentioned on your G+ page, I think this just continues to expose an issue with “maps” that no one talks much about. Google get’s my location wrong every time, and in a small survey of others in my area, Google gives the wrong location information about 40% of the time.

    I assume its based on the searchers ISP’s POP. So when I search for a ____ restaurant I get results that are two suburbs away. No help.

    I suggested they add a tag to local results asking “is this the right location for you”, and I saw that come once a few months ago. But, for searchers who are less savvy about changing their locations in the browser, I think they will just ignore it, and move on to Yelp or their preferred reviews choice that allows them to control the issue.

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