Google Carousel: A Change for Small Businesses to Embrace

A few months ago, Google started rolling out its latest development: an interactive carousel of local business listings at the top of the search results page. Almost instantly, many of our clients began expressing their concern about this latest development and how it would impact their business.
While changes from Google often evoke feelings of anxiety in many businesses, I am a firm believer that any new search update from Google represents a chance for better interaction with customers and the opportunity to get ahead of the competition. With that said, Google Carousel presents a tremendous opportunity for small businesses and am hopeful that the following tips will help many different businesses take advantage of this change and gain a positive benefit for their company.

The above image is an example of a typical carousel for a restaurant search. In our example, the search for “Atlanta GA restaurants” brings up a selection of various listings with photographs, ratings and price points. Many more seasoned businesses will no doubt note the disappearance of the map listings in the search results. Not to worry, however, as research has indicated that the Carousel listings nearly always mirror the former map listings. If your business was appearing on the map listings in Google, chances are high it will also be featured in the Carousel.
It is my opinion that the Google Carousel will have a larger and more positive impact on businesses listed there than the traditional Google maps listings simply because it is more interactive and the images present an enticing target for users to click on. With that in mind, here are four main things to keep in mind about Google Carousel and its impact on your business.
1.Google+ Local is More Important than Ever: With interesting and professional photographs a key ingredient to attracting user interest, updating your Google+ Local listing with high quality photographs and accurate information is essential. Unfortunately, business owners do not have control over what images Google chooses to present in the Carousel listing but having several great looking images in your Google+ Local listing gives your business a fairly high chance of having those images featured on the Carousel.
2.Not All Industries Will Be Affected by Google Carousel: Currently, Google has only rolled out to the Carousel to certain industry verticals such as restaurants, hotels, museums, and art galleries. Ultimately, it appears that many of the industries affected have a great deal of images to present search users and are by their nature more suitable for an image based search. Professional services such as attorneys, doctors, and accountants along with traditional retailers remain unaffected by the Carousel but this could change over time.
3.The Type of Information Presented in the Carousel Varies by Query: Depending on the type of query a user types into the search field, Google adjusts the Carousel listings to provide the most relevant information. For example, Carousel listings for restaurants include a photo, name, star rating, number of reviews, type of cuisine and price range while hotel listings include a photo, name, star rating, number of reviews, and address. Regardless of your industry, it is imperative that your business have an accurate address and Google+  Local listing to ensure potential customers receive the correct information should they find your company on the Carousel.
4.Your Online Brand and Reputation Just Became More Important : While it has always been important to maintain a positive brand image and reputation online, one interesting characteristic about the Google Carousel has increased that importance exponentially. Interestingly enough, if a user clicks on your Carousel listing Google will automatically create a new, branded search that brings up your branded search results. With that in mind, managing your online reputation by staying on top of reviews, listing accuracy, just became an item of paramount importance. By clicking on your carousel listing, consumers will see a broad scope of information about your business through the search results and it is crucial that this information be accurate and positive in nature.
Overall, I think the Google Carousel is without a doubt more of an opportunity than a threat for local businesses. For a business that keeps their Google+ Local listing in great shape and manages their online reputation well, the Carousel should become a fantastic source of new customers.
No longer will customers have to rely on static black and white text to make their purchasing decisions, but now are able to view a dynamic listing of images, reviews, and pricing to determine their next course of action. Through that, your business has the opportunity to further differentiate itself from the competition, stand out from the crowd, and gain more business.

To learn more, please contact Full Media