Google recently expanded its Knowledge Graph to include an interactive carousel of local results. Its Local Search Carousel launched in June to provide users more relevant results.
The carousel appears at the top of the search results page when a user searches for restaurants, hotels and other points of interest. This local carousel will change search results – putting a stronger emphasis on local, structured data and Google Plus.
Search queries do not need to be geo-modified to generate the carousel. Results without geo-modifications are populated based on the user’s location, while geo-modified results are populated based on the location specified in the query. Users can easily view additional results by clicking the arrow on the right side of the carousel.
Local Carousel Features
The information provided for each result is populated from the specific business’s Google Plus local page and includes, but is not limited to:
- Number of reviews
- User ratings
- Cuisine, price, etc.
Deeper Local Discovery
When a result is clicked on, the user’s search query is changed to a branded and geo-modified query for the selected business. This new query presents the user a customized set of search results, which includes a Knowledge Graph panel on the right rail with additional information about the business. The carousel is still present on the new results page, which offers users the option to choose other results for further discovery.
Paid Search Impact
The local carousel will push paid search ads farther down on the search result page. Advertisers will need to keep a close eye on their ad position and monitor the number of ads showing on the first page of results. With the amount of real estate the new feature populates, it has the potential to push ads off the first page and onto deeper pages.
Advertisers will also want to put a higher emphasis on targeting competitors, as clicking on a result within the carousel changes a user’s original search query to a branded query. It will be important to monitor the search query report for potential shifts in search terms that are triggering ads.
Organic Search Impact
The Local Search Carousel will require businesses, SEO experts and webmasters to put more emphasis on their local search efforts. These efforts should not be limited to the business’s website. Optimizing for local should encompass the business’s owned properties and the entire local landscape, including other local listing properties such as Yelp, Citysearch and Google Plus. Google Plus Local specifically should be a high priority, since this is where the information within the carousel is being pulled from.
This local extension to the Knowledge Graph stresses the importance for businesses and webmasters to begin implementing structured data onto their websites. Google states, “Our algorithms can enhance your search results with ‘rich snippets’ when we understand that your page is a structured product listing, event, recipe, review or similar. We can also feature your data in Knowledge Graph panels or in Google Now cards, helping to spread the word about your content.” To offer the best opportunity for information to be found and to enhance your listings in search results, it will be imperative to incorporate these structured data mark-ups to add value for users.
Although it’s too soon to understand the overall impact of the local search carousel on website traffic, it is designed for discovery and may not guarantee an increase in traffic. Ultimately, the user’s search path will be the determining factor. This means businesses must work to provide an appealing result, so they can compete appropriately.
“Let the Spinning Wheel Spin”
Businesses should anticipate the local carousel will eventually expand to trigger when other local place queries are searched, although it has not yet been announced what these queries will include beyond restaurants, hotels and points of interest.
Google’s Knowledge Graph Carousel for Local is a valuable discovery tool for local search queries. Local search continues to evolve so Google can provide users the most relevant search experience. This update is another indicator of the importance Google is placing on how it addresses these results.