“If you don’t like the weather… now, just wait a few minutes.” – Mark TwainMark Twain’s famous quote about the weather reminds me of the constantly changing Internet. Let’s look at the recent changes to SERP (Search Engine Results Page). The SERP is the page returned when you do a search in Google/Yahoo/Bing for a word or a phrase. Google (still the market leader for providing search results) has revamped the look of its Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for local searches. In mid-June, Google introduced the Local Search “carousel”. It replaces what was known as the “7-Pack”, the seven local search results (red balloons) that display business name, address, phone number, and map location.
The carousel is a horizontal row of pictures shown across the top of the SERP. For businesses with a Google+ Local profile, the photo displayed for your business is the Google+ Local profile picture. The row of business listings contains pictures along with a rating and, in some cases, a cost category. As before, the results are intended to display the most relevant list to the search request. If a business has no Google+ Local account or no profile picture provided in their account, a tiny Google map is displayed as a picture. If your website features mouth-watering pizza, for example, your profile picture will be more enticing than a thumbnail map of your location.
Get your website and profile picture up on Google+ LocalWhen the viewer clicks on the listing in the carousel, more information is displayed. The viewer is given an option to write a review. For restaurants, listings in the carousel can be filtered to display only restaurants with a certain rating, offering meals with in a certain price range, or offering a certain cuisine. Google is gradually rolling out the new look so the carousel will not show on every search term. It appears to be triggered by certain keywords. These keywords are not published; many SEO specialists, tasked with maintaining and improving search results, are compiling lists of search terms to be shared on the Internet. To get your business listed on the carousel, you must follow the same SEO practices established by Google as you would to achieve high page ranking. Remember Google’s aim is to bring the best, most relevant search results to its users. So, it is important that businesses use SEO best practices and update their websites regularly if they are to get on board the carousel. Displaying businesses in a horizontal row seems to equalize them, compared to displaying them in a vertical list. Removing the “balloon” lettering system that associates business is one of the changes Google has made lately to Google Maps, and local search results appear to downplay relative rankings. Another benefit is that the images give businesses greater promotional power. Having a more compelling, attractive image than your competitors can influence your clicks and conversions.
3 Tips to Help Get on Board the “Carousel”
- Claim your Google+ Local Account.
- Have a compelling, attractive profile image in your Google+ Local account.
- Continually updating your website with fresh content.