If you have a local business it may not have happened to you yet…but it most likely will. What is it that I’m referring to? The carousel.
Over the past month and a half Google has started rolling out what’s known as carousel listings for some of their local search results after running a beta version of it for certain mobile devices such as the iPad for several months prior. What is the carousel? Well, it looks a little something like this (here’s a search result for “Grand Rapids restaurants”):
That’s a bit of a change, huh?
If you click on one of the thumbnails it actually doesn’t take you to the places page it simply opens up new search results beneath that restaurant and replaces the map with the details from the local Google+ page.
So what does this mean to local businesses?
A few things.
- No more messing around with claiming your Google Places page.
- More than just claiming it, you need to pack your places page with all the info customers want. Expecting them to reach your website is a bad assumption when Google puts all this information front and center. If your pictures look bad or your information is incomplete, expect customers to go elsewhere.
- Make sure you get listed in whatever local directories are valuable for your business. Google’s pulling information on pricing and reviews from a lot of sources like Yelp and Citysearch, so get listed everywhere you can to make sure Google’s getting as much information as they can from you (on top of your existing website, which should already have all this info).
- GET REVIEWS! Reviews are part of Google’s local algorithm. A steady stream of them means people are using your services and a steady stream of new reviews tells Google you still have a pulse. Getting a big batch at once won’t do you nearly as much good as setting up systems to follow up with customers for reviews not only on your Google Places/Plus page but any other potential high value local directories (again, think places like Yelp).
Notice in the screenshot above all the top listings have plenty of reviews, nice pictures and complete data. They’re not their by accident, and you won’t be either if you don’t act soon.