Image courtesy of Greg Gifford.
Greg Giford of Autorevo and Dr. Pete Meyers of Moz are both reporting increased visibility of the Local Carousel display that highlights local businesses at the top of the SERPS in a highly photographic style rather than the embedded 7-Pack Local Universal display of a list of pins.
Interestingly, for the first time, these are showing in categories outside of just restaurants and hotels. Greg reported the carousel as showing in a range of recreational, leisure and entertainment categories like golf, bowling alleys, movie theaters, night life, ballrooms and art galleries. (For the complete list of searches that Greg saw these results be sure to read his post.) No reports yet of retail or service area business listings in this new format.
Whether these are still in test mode or actually slowly rolling out is not clear as there have been sporadic sightings elsewhere around the country. It would seem that regardless they are getting closer to being fully baked.
First spotted in the wild by Dr. Pete in early May and analyzed in depth by Lisa Kolb these carousel results along with the Maps display seem to point to a shift in the ranking metaphor that Google has so long used in the display of local results. Highly visual in design, with a bold black border accentuating the color photographs, Google is almost saying “these are the most relevant results but are of equal value for your consideration”.
Much like social annotations and the pins, it appears that these types of results will “disrupt” traditional searcher behaviors that heavily favored the first search results by spreading clicks more evenly across the page. With a horizontal display it might be equally advantageous to be 3rd as it is to be first in order.