It has been on tablets for six months. But now the “local carousel” has come to PC search results. According to the official announcement, “When you search Google for restaurants, bars or other local places on your desktop, you’ll see an interactive ‘carousel’ of local results at the top of the page.”
Right now it’s US only and only for select categories of businesses. The presentation of content in this horizontally scrolling “bar” is made possible by the same kinds of structured data behind Google’s “knowledge graph.” Indeed, local carousel is a subset of knowledge graph.
I don’t think it works on the PC in the way that it does on the iPad. But you be the judge. Below are “before and after” screen captures for local restaurant and hotel searches (click to enlarge).
Sushi San Francisco
Hotels New York
The carousel works well on the iPad because of the inclination to swipe horizontally on the touchscreen. To create more “organic space on the page,” users can also flip the tablet into portrait mode. However that can’t be done on the PC.
The local results carousel is visually more interesting than conventional local search results (“ten blue links”). And the lucky businesses that appear there have a significant visibility advantage over others lower on the page.
However despite being more visually interesting, the overall page is less useful now. Organic results are pushed further down and the whole page has a “disjointed” appearance. The local carousel hasn’t been well integrated. Perhaps a reformatting or different treatment of some of the design elements (removing the dark background for one) would address most of my complaints.
On the practical side of things, Mike Blumenthal has a nice discussion of some of the issues from a business owner perspective.
This new treatment of local information will likely give rise to “carousel SEO.” Marketers and agencies will now be scheming about how to get businesses or their clients into the carousel.
What are your thoughts on the new Google SERP? Do you like what Google has done or do you believe, as I do, that it doesn’t quite work as presented (on the PC)?