The term “local search” has been thrown around in circles for a few years now. Of late, local search has become increasingly important from not only a mobile perspective but desktop as well.
The intensity of these tasks has certainly increased in the last two years. There have been local search functions around for sometime such as Foursquare and check-ins, Facebook and check-ins as well as new or enhanced products like Google Maps, Google+ Business, Google+ Local etc. Then we have Facebook getting in on the action with their new-ish offering of local results and maps pages and Graph Search.
Once that’s all in place we often turn to local listings in sites like Yelp to harness the power of local listings and customer reviews; I can go on about pushing this further with microdata for rich snippets on customer reviews on your own sites but I’ll refrain for now.
All of this is to “own the shelf” – above the fold.
There are a number of tasks we advise clients on including all of the above as well as the importance of local listing management. This can be very helpful with businesses maintaining verified listings across numerous local sites.
Now Google has done it again with a new UI for local which was released in some regions (let’s get real – it launched in the US) called the Local Results Carousel. This functionality has been available on some devices since late last year so this release is for the desktop.
The premise of this is when a user searches for a venue (restaurants, bars etc. ya, I like to eat and drink!) an image carousel appears above the listings and maps showing a picture of the store front, reviews and ratings and the like. I tried replicating this on google.com from Australia – I didn’t get the carousel but I did find out where the best margaritas are in L.A.! I did see the local results dominate the top of page – hell I may even visit Cleveland one day.
With that said I had to source a screenshot – thank you Search Engine Watch.
Source: Search Engine Watch
Here are some results and reactions to the carousel: 10 Random People’s Reactions To Google Local Carousel
So what does this mean for us? Make sure you have a strong presence on Google+. Use really great images, always; you don’t really get to choose which image Google will use so make all of them good. Encourage customers (by giving them positive reasons) to leave reviews. Maintain the page and be active. It’s for a good cause.